Last week I drove to Silverwood Park – a Three Rivers Park District park near my house – and sat on a park bench near the lake shore.
As I sat there for several minutes gazing at the lake and enjoying the serenity of the setting, I wondered what the other people enjoying the park that day thought about what I might be doing. Little did they know that I sat there because I can’t walk very far on the paths right now without feeling the pain of my hip bursitis. Normally, I would be walking the pathways and getting some exercise. In fact, I would usually walk to the park rather than drive.
Particularly at this time of year when everything is budding and blooming, and we finally have warmer weather here in Minnesota, I love being outdoors. It lifts my mood and provides me with a light heart. So, my hip issue keeping me from my walks is really bugging me! An aha moment came to me last week (might have come to some of you more quickly, but I may be stuck in a rut) that I could at least enjoy the outdoors by sitting on a park bench even if I couldn’t walk very far. Thus, my drive to the park to take in the view from the bench.
Now, all of the verbiage above is just background for why I was sitting on the bench and wondering what people thought of me. I really want to address my concern about what people were thinking of me.
I pondered the idea of how my actions impress (or not) other people. Here are my thoughts and questions about this topic:
- Probably 98% of strangers I encounter give very little thought to what I might be up to; however, that is likely because I am Caucasian, Christian, heterosexual and mostly don’t bother anyone or stir up trouble. What if I was Muslim or Asian or Black or gay or trans-gender? Would others then feel they could judge my actions?
- If anyone does wonder about my behavior, they have no idea what my life is all about at any given moment – how my story affects my actions. I could be experiencing a tragedy or crisis that causes me to behave differently. (Yes, I know, hip bursitis is not a crisis, but it is currently affecting my lifestyle.)
- It is nobody else’s business what I am doing as long as I am not hurting anyone in any way. Why can’t we all see that as long as no laws are broken or no one is hurt, there is no reason to fear and judge the actions of others, even those that may be of a different race, culture, religion or socio-economic class?
In January, for the last couple of years, I have set a “word for the year” to use as guidance, hopefully, for my lifestyle. This year my word is acceptance. I started out with non-judgmental, but decided acceptance sounded better. I am trying to accept everyone I meet as they are. I may wonder about the actions of others, as I thought others might be doing about me as I sat on the bench; but, I want to remember that I do not know everyone’s story or the customs of their culture or race or religion, and therefore, cannot judge their behavior.
In the troubled world we live in today, it seems to me we could all attempt to show more acceptance and less fear of the people we encounter as we live our lives. Who knows what their story might be!