Friday, December 27, 2013

It's a Wonderful Life

Have you ever accidentally overheard people talking about you when they thought you weren't in close enough proximity to actually hear their words? Let me ask you something; did you like what you heard? Or were you in fact, horrified by their misguided and half-baked assessments?

The other day, I was at a little holiday party amongst a few of my co-workers.  Still relatively new to New York, I figured I ought to go to the party and socialize a bit.  When I got up from the table to find the restroom, I overheard some people suddenly begin to talk about me almost instantaneously.  The craziest thing was, they couldn't have been further from the truth... or my perception of it anyway.

I left the party shortly thereafter.  And as I slowly walked home, playing back the words and drunken assessments of others, I suddenly felt overwhelmed with a sinking disappointment.  I felt a little silly for caring so much.  But the truth is, I went to the party having an open mind about the people I was hoping to get to know, only to discover that a few of them had already made their minds up about me a while ago.

It is an unfortunate aspect of human nature: making snap judgements and at-a-glance presumptions without ever considering all the facts.

It was the night before Christmas Eve.  The cards had been stacking up against me for weeks.  And that experience at the party was enough to send me right over the edge.  But then, I got to thinking...

I may not ever understand how other people perceive me, or worse, how they arrived at their short-sighted conclusions in the first place. But ultimately, what I realized, is that in the long run, it doesn't matter.  

The big picture here, what matters, is how you see yourself.  From there, so much is possible.  

For a long time, how I saw myself wasn't entirely fair or very accurate. It was a similarly short sighted perspective, derived from a skewed perspective of my own reality.

And after thirty years of living life, following my heart and taking chances, I've come to appreciate the person I see today.

I am not a victim or a 'survivor'.  I am simply a human being who has made a zillion decisions over the past three decades that have all, in one way or another, shaped my experience on this planet in such a fashion that I am able to see the world and function within it, the only way I know how: with intense sensitivity and emotional awareness.

I think the lesson here is pretty simple; we are all the authors of our own story.  We have no idea what someone else is going through, which means that our assessments of ourselves and others is probably not entirely accurate. But, if we can muster up the courage to own our choices, as well as their consequences, we may find a sense of peace that surpasses all understanding.

People will make presumptions about you and assign a simplified version of your character.  What can you do? That's life. That is, most often, a filtering mechanism or in the very least, lazy social skills.

I'm not perfect. I may have had a few hard knocks and tough blows along the way.  But I didn't just stumble accidentally through major life events unknowingly or without great thought or analysis.  This very moment is the product of every choice that preceded it.

It may not be exactly what I imagined or had planned, but that could very well be God directing me to greater experiences than I was ever capable of imaging.

As we approach the new year, I hope to challenge us all to consider that our snap judgements of others are not productive or necessarily fair.  Furthermore, they could also be quite hurtful. This holiday season, give someone the benefit of the doubt and you might be surprised. Let their truth be revealed in time with compassion and even a little bit of faith.  Apply this concept to how you see yourself... and you might wake up more comfortable in your skin than ever before. 


Smoke and Mirrors

1 1/2 oz of Single Malt Whiskey
1/2 oz Benedictine Liqueur 
1/2 oz Byrrh Aperitif 
Dash of Angostura Bitters

Stir and strain into a Coupe
Garnish with an orange zest

                           Wishing my friends and family health, happiness and love in the New Year.