Friday, May 23, 2008

HOW TO LOVE HUMANITY (BECAUSE I'M EXACTLY THE PERSON YOU WANT TO TEACH YOU SUCH A THING)

I don’t want to hate people. So I give them excuses for their incredible stupidity.

In my benevolence and desire to love humanity as I love myself (which is quite a lot), I grant folks disorders, family issues, fiscal concerns and other problems that may affect their social behaviors and abilities. With justification, behaviors that would normally drive me nuts are excusable and even worthy of pity.

A while back, I took a yoga class from a teacher I’d never practiced with before. The flow was broken. Her terminology was off. Her form was atrocious. (All of these things I know only because I am a freak and buy yoga books, read yoga magazines, attend yoga conferences and workshops, have taken yoga teacher trainings and teach my husband Sanskrit for fun.)

That yoga class put me in a bad mood—I went there seeking an experience akin to the vigorous practice I was accustomed to and that the class was advertised to posses but left entirely unfulfilled because the instructor appeared clueless in regard to all things yoga. I had wasted an hour. I felt I didn’t actually practice. I blamed the teacher. I was moving toward hatred of this woman.

So I gave her a bum foot and a mental problem.

Having a bum foot took care of her bad form; I couldn’t hold her accountable to position herself properly in the postures if her foot was deformed and didn’t work properly! A mental problem took care of the matters of her bad terminology and broken flow. It wasn’t her fault that she is a little slow! She did the best she could. All those years in the special education programs during her public school education helped speed up her development, but couldn’t negate the fact that her mental faculties weren’t up to snuff.

Giving this teacher said problems altered my feelings towards her; rather than being angry about a mis-advertised class and crummy teacher, I felt bad for this woman clearly trying her best to teach a yoga class despite her physical and mental limitations.

I do this with many people.

The grumpy receptionist who snapped at me: The poor thing! Her husband was just diagnosed with colorectal cancer—she’s feeling terrible because she works in a gastroenterology office and thinks that she should have been more valiant in pressuring him to get a colonoscopy sooner. She knows better! She’s chiding herself, and it’s coming out in her behavior.

The woman who cut me off on the freeway: She’s in a big hurry and not paying close attention to the road or other cars because she’s on her way to her son’s preschool. He just took a tumble off the jungle gym. He has a nosebleed and the teachers think that he may have fractured his arm. He is her only child and this is their first experience with the possibility of a broken bone. She is worried sick.

The man who ran into me in the grocery store and didn’t apologize: He has lost the ability to see out of his left eye. He lost it when a stick plunged into his eye while he was pruning his neighbor’s apricot tree, because the neighbor had just had arthroscopic knee surgery. Service took his eyesight.

It couldn’t be that the receptionist is just a mean old hag. Or that the lady who cut me off is an oblivious cow. Or that the man in the grocery store is nothing more than a rude ass.

Give it a try. Granting people problems that could affect their behavior gives one a much brighter outlook on humanity.

It’s not their fault—they’re disadvantaged!

1 comment:

tadd&cat said...

It has become clear to me that you...are...crazy. Crazy, but quite genius.