Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Little Kindness

Perhaps you read or heard about the "missile" sighting off the coast of California. It reminds me of the tendency of some people to hear bits and pieces and jump to a conclusion that bears no resemblance to reality. I'm not exempt, although I try to be. Sometimes my nosiness gets the better of me.

If inclinations had DNA, they would share DNA with worrying. At its worst in the middle of the night, when some sound has awakened me and my sluggishness isn't dull enough to return to sleep, my mind catches a random factoid and begins to spin a yarn that begins to feel more and more factual until I become almost certain disaster is about to happen or already has.

Similarly, but in a more positive sense, this sort of thing can happen on a long run. The mind takes off on a tangent, blindly darting this way and that until it lands on a brilliant solution, invention, story, or approach to the future. Perhaps this exemplifies "the runner's high." Inevitably, return to reality exposes flaws in the masterpiece.

"What on earth are you talking about?" says Virginia.

Oh, mindfulness, or mindlessness, I guess. Recognizing the way minds work, and that minds work differently, might bring a bit of tolerance to our lives -- a sympathetic reluctance to accept an utterance as a true expression of what someone else thinks. If I said, or described, every worry or runner's high thought, a person might think me crazy, demented, stupid, inconsiderate or foolish. Sometimes I do say those things, with immediate regret. When I hear others say them, I'd be much better off to ignore them or wait a while to find out if they really meant them or were just reeling out the working of their minds.

I'm often grateful I'm not famous, a politician or newscaster or reality show participant, always on camera. As hard as I'd try to bite my tongue, eventually I'd forget and say something unfortunate. Let's try harder to be kind.

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