How We Choose to See It

For weeks I have been hemming and hawing over some long form writing pieces. And I just couldn’t find the words… I wrote, and rewrote, and edited, and re-edited. I’d get about three paragraphs in and be distracted or torn away from my desk to do other things that seemed more imperative. And then today I decided that, during this very strange summer that feels so different than summers-past, I would just start to share the small things that are bringing me light right now. And the things that are making me say, “Ah. I have the choice to see this as a good moment or a bad.” That has been a real revelation for me during this more quiet time at home. Instead of just impulsively complaining or jumping to conclusions, I am allowing myself to take a pause before reacting and choose how to see interactions, conversations, and experiences with a more positive perspective.

This morning I was driving to run an errand. I saw a woman ahead on the road who was jogging with some difficulty. She was going quite slowly and ran with a slight limp. I slowed down as I approached her and gave her extra room on the side of the road. As I passed her she threw her arm up in the air, hand in a tight fist. For a split second I thought, “Is she pissed that I didn’t slow down enough?!?” And then I thought, “No, that is her wave of thanks for slowing down.” I took that extra moment to realize that the same thing that altered her gait could very clearly alter her ability to wave with her hand. Stay with me here – I found myself in a moment where I had the choice to see her gesture as something to bring light to my day (a wave of thanks from a stranger) or negative energy (a pissed off fist in the air for getting too close). Thankfully I chose light. I wasn’t proud that my mind first went to the place of “negative” but I was grateful that I took that 5 second pause to reassess and allow that little bit of light into my day. While this is a simplistic example I think it certainly can be applied to many other bigger interactions. I am going to challenge myself to make this simple switch in perspective more often this week.

And in an effort to just “get it out there”. Here are two quick book reviews. I just finished American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, and Know My Name by Chanel Miller. Both were eye-opening reads. The topics were heavy so you need to be in the mood for that type of book right now. American Dirt was the culmination of a 4 year project for Cummins. It is a novel but she writes with such specific and believable detail that it reads more like a memoir. While writing the book, she crossed the border into Mexico several times to get a better sense of what immigrants go through when risking their lives to leave Central America and get to the United States. While the issue is highly political, Cummins does an excellent job of really humanizing the topic. I walked away better understanding how treacherous the crossing can be, and why some people (even with their children) are willing to risk their lives to make the journey. And Miller is the young woman who was sexually assaulted by the Stanford University swimmer, Brock Turner, back in 2015. Miller is smart, open, and brutally honest about what she experienced in the days and years that followed her assault. This too was an eye opening look at how our legal system handles assault and rape cases. Now reading Such a Fun Age and will be back with another review next week!

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