The comment box yesterday was not the first place or time that someone has incredulously asked me whether my too-perfect family was for real. Incidentally, it’s also not the first time I’ve nearly died laughing. But I digress. In a round-about way I’ll get back to that, but first, a story.
A wise man sat outside the gates of a city where travellers often passed. A traveller on his way in to the city stopped and asked the wise man, “What are the people inside of this city like?”
The wise man in turn questioned the traveller, “Well, how were the people from the town you left?”
The traveller scrunched up his face bitterly and said, “They were small and petty, they picked out fault in each other and were unwilling to forgive.”
The wise man gestured towards the city and said, “You will find people the same therein.” The traveller turned on his heel and walked the other way.
A bit later another traveller came along the road and stopped to talk with the wise man at the gates of the city. “So,” the traveller said, “What are the people inside this city like?”
The wise man said, “Well, how were the people from the town you left?”
The traveller gave a small placid smile and said, “They was not a perfect person among them, myself not excluded, nor was there any one that I would call a bad one. At heart they were all good and forgiving to each other. I was sad to go. They were good people.”
The wise man smiled. “Enter,” he said to the traveller, “You will find people the same therein.”
Whether a group of people is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depends on how you choose to perceive them and how much of their human imperfection you are willing to overlook. Of course this principle applies short of something like say…murder, but the effect of a forgiving and sympathetic view in life allows you to take things for what they’re really worth. Sometimes a curt response is just someone being tired and not, ‘oh, they’re always being rude!’ and, ‘darling, are you tired?’ is sometimes more useful on your part than ‘don’t snap at me!’
And in case blogistan in general is wondering who I address as ‘darling,’ the answer is- nearly everyone. Owlie, Chai, Crayon, Hemmie, my Mother, my brother, the computer chair… you know.. the dog…
Darling, Dear, Love of My Life, Best Beloved, My Hamburger, My Cockroach, Sir, Madame, Beta, these are all terms of endearment that are used freely around Abezistan. Is it because Abez is a soppy old woman in a ratty mink who plants magenta lipstick kisses on tormented grandchildren? He he, no. Not that I won’t do that to my grandchildren since it does seem like an interesting idea, but I have discovered that a simple term of endearment can make it clear that your intentions are polite even if your tone of voice might be a little tired. It can show that you’re tired but you have enough respect and love for the person you’re talking with to try and address them in terms of affection. It doesn’t even have to be a cutesy term of endearment. Ask Owlie-bird. I say, “Owlie Darling?” and she answers, “Yes my Hamburger?”
Man, I’ve gone off on a tangent. My family is neither perfect nor too good to be true, but I know from seeing other families that we have something that other families don’t always have: we have respect for each other, and we try to have patience. Overall, and above all, we have love. If you remember, if you keep in the back of your mind that you love your family members even when you’re angry with them, then the edge will be taken off of your anger and the irritation will never be honed into hate.
It’s the hardest thing in the world, but try this: next time you’re in an argument, when you’re itching to say the meanest, nastiest, most hurtful thing you can think of, hold your tongue for five seconds. And then tell the other person that you love them. That, dear blogistan, is the effect of snow on fire.