i'm participating in kylie bellard's fortnight of self-adoration for the next two weeks. she sends a daily "assignment" and there's a facebook group that's full of good, positive energy. i'm enjoying it. although i've already utterly failed at the first mission.
here's what it was (quoting exactly, capital letters and all):
While you’re going about your day today, look at another person whom you’ve never seen before.my first failure on it was that i didn't do it on monday, as assigned. i've lead a hermit-y life for a couple of days and haven't really left the house much or been in contact with any people i didn't know (it's a small town i live in, so sue me). this failure i can forgive myself for.
Take a few moments to glance at them, and contemplate the fact that this person has had hard experiences, just like you have. This person has cried, and felt angry, and felt like they messed up, and been self-critical at one time or another. This person has felt afraid, too.
What’s it like to take the time to notice that someone else has an inner life that’s just as nuanced as your own?
today, i had a chance to try to do this and i even had a perfect opportunity, where to be able, even if just for a moment, to understand where the other person was coming from would have really helped me. but i simply was unable to do it. and not to defend myself, but allow me to explain.
we moved our horse to a new stable at the beginning of july. the main reason being that it's much closer to home, so it's much easier for us to pop over there. matilde spent the summer out on grass in the pasture and we haven't been over to ride much since we moved her. she needed time off and so did sabin. since school starts tomorrow and there's a nip of fall in the air, we decided it was time to, quite literally, get back in the saddle again.
we didn't really see anyone there when we arrived. some girls were being picked up from a riding camp, but then it was pretty quiet. we saddled up and sabin rode in the outdoor arena. as she was nearly done, a woman walked towards us. she was still some distance away, but i turned and said "hi." to which she responded by turning around and going the other way. i heard her daughter say, "who was that, mom?" and she said, "they must be the new (people)." (people is in parentheses because she didn't actually say it, she just said, "they must be the new," which can be said in danish, tho' frankly, it isn't very nice.) but we apparently didn't rate a greeting or a chat or even a direct question to find out who we were. apparently that extra 20 feet she would have had to walk to have a small conversation with me was too much.
now, i'm quite accustomed to this sort of treatment after 15 years in denmark, but honestly, there are days, like today, where it really gets under my skin. mostly because i can never make myself understand it. she was walking in our direction, looking fully like she intended to say hello, but when i turned and said hello and she realized she didn't know me, she turned heel and went the other way, without so much as saying hello back. this isn't unusual. but it makes no sense to me. we are both at a stable, we both have daughters, we must both live in the area, so we actually have quite a lot in common, even if we don't know one another. so why couldn't she even say hello to me? especially when i said it to her first?
i tried to put myself inside her head, to contemplate what experiences she had that brought her to the point where she's unable to even have a common sense of politeness towards someone that she's never met before? is it shyness? is it arrogance? is it not wanting to be an inconvenience to me? or to herself? is it that i look like i would bite? or that i might smell bad (she was too far away to know that when she turned back)? was she afraid i didn't speak danish (sabin and i weren't talking at that moment, so she couldn't have heard us speaking english)? is there just a cultural chasm i can't cross? what was it? why couldn't she even say hello to me when i said it first to her?
i feel it as such a negation of my humanity. even as i try my hardest to fight that feeling, reminding myself that it couldn't possibly be about me, because she didn't know anything about me at all. but the fact is that she also didn't want to. she had no interest in me once she realized she didn't know me. and i can't stop myself from feeling hurt by that. nor can i get inside of her head and try to understand it. i simply don't understand. but i also have a hard time thinking that it's really my failure. short of running after her and insisting on introducing myself, what else could i have done?
worst was, it didn't just ruin that moment, but it put me in a bad, irritated mood for the rest of the evening. i snapped at my family. i sighed big sighs. i was exasperated with everything. i felt impatient and restless throughout an evening meeting. it made me uncomfortable in my own skin. i'd love to be able to let go and to understand, but it feels pretty beyond me at this moment in time.