Monday, February 7, 2011

conclusions and illusions


he wore a red golf shirt every day. his hair, graying, was parted on the side, tucked behind silver glasses too big for his face. he was older, almost retired, and walked slowly, deliberately.

to talk to him was a game of roulette, to chance a good mood or a sour one. his office, at the end of the hall, never had visitors. he was quick with a snappy comeback, arched eyebrow of suspicion, and sigh of defeat. but he was excellent at what he did, so no one bothered him. no family pictures decorated his office, only a whiteboard and clock.

it was my first job, one of my first co-workers. my heart was too tender for his caustic demeanor, and i tried to avoid confrontation, only running into him in the kitchen, pouring black coffee into his stained mug. he smugly laughed at my optimism and "have a great day" salutations.

then one day, someone told me something about him. about why he avoided family pictures and corporate christmas parties, with all their spousal small talk. 


the tragedies, deaths and losses that hung like broken limbs on his weeping willow of a family tree.

all of a sudden, i began to see his abrasiveness as hurt. as agony. as a grief too hard to bear and contain internally, so it spilled over outside of him, onto his clothes, his expression, his pursed lips and his feet that dragged.

and i felt so bad for judging him.

because we never, ever know all the burdens people are carrying. stories can be personal, deep and hidden.

if you pull up beside me in the car and see me singing, i appear like a silly, 20-something girl. primarily because it's probably katy perry or kesha. and i'm probably drumming on my steering wheel. 

but did you know it's because when i sing, it's the absolute only time i don't stutter? and i'm a terrible singer. oh my goodness. so awful. but i sing all the time for relief. of the glottal blocks and brick walls that rear their nasty heads when i speak. but you didn't know that, and you can't get that from a stoplight encounter.

and you sometimes can't even get that from years of experience with someone. from working with them. shoot, from living with them.


everyone's fighting a battle, whether obvious or not. but we're not mind readers. sometimes we don't have the luxury of peeling away those layers. we just can't do it.


but we can love them. and accept them. and go about our day without questioning or judging how they live theirs. because sometimes a song isn't just a song, and a mean-spirited snap isn't just a bad day. and sometime we're going to need that exact same acceptance.


i don't work with that man anymore, but i hope he's happy somewhere. and singing.

27 comments:

Trina Curran said...

Oh, my goodness, this touched my heart. And you know what? You don't stutter when you write either...you write beautifully. This made me think of the lady at Target that rounds the carts...she is very forceful at her job and quite matter-of-fact, and then one day, and two, I saw her walking to work from quite a distance. It changed my whole perspective of her completely. I admire her now.

Seams Inspired said...

Sweet friend, this is beautiful. A long time ago, when I worked for a bank, I learned to not judge people. One day, a grubby looking man in overalls covered with dirt walked into my office, bringing clumps of mud with each step of his boots. He wanted to open an account. I processed the papers and then asked for his deposit. Imagine my surprise when he pulled out $10,000 in cash from those dirty overalls. That experience changed me FOREVER. I've done my best to never judge a person since then. You just don't know from a glance, do you?

Happy Monday! Thanks for such a thought-provoking post.

Nicole said...

Oh my goodness, dear! You truly have a way with words! It's so much easier to judge someone than to get to know them. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a reason why they are the way they are. Everyone has past heartaches, griefs, pains, regrets, etc, etc. I was totally encouraged by this post to once again, like Atticus Finch says, to put myself in someone's shoes and walk around in them. Thank you dear!

jeanette from everton terrace said...

I think of this all the time, even when on an airplane. I think of the people that aren't on the plane for business or pleasure but maybe going to a funeral or running from a terrible life. You just never never know. You sing when you write as well.

Peaches said...

This is a beautiful post with such a good lesson. Thanks for starting my day off right. =)

Happy Monday!

Christi said...

This is something I try to remind myself often. Wonderful post, Courtney. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and anecdotes.

jeny said...

Such an honest lesson + true. I love reading what you write because its always right on point as if I could have written it myself. People comment on my weight all the time, but no one understands that its not over eating that made me this way. I think about people and learn about people, but never judge them. Thanks for sharing your writing.

bethani said...
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bethani said...

i love your post. there are many people in the world going through things that we may never know about or understand, and so its easy to misjudge them based on their demanor or attitude. for that reason, i try my hardest everyday to treat everyone the same way, because you never know whos got what going on.

thank you for the simple reminder today

ruthy ann said...

so beautiful...and vulnerable. and I bet you have a great voice!

mskanorado said...

This is such a lovely post-Absolutely beautiful and so brutally true. It's so easy to make assumptions and often times make our perceptions seemingly reality, only to find out we don't know the half of it! What am important lesson.

Tiffany said...

What a great blog post! Seriously....this is beautiful and SO true! Thanks for sharing.

Ana* said...

I have become a firm believer of cause and effect. There's always a cause to every behavior out there, the loud teen walking home drunk, the grumpy man or woman, it's like they're screaming for help. This is beautiful, I will think twice before reacting to a negative behavior or judging

Shalyn said...

This is my favorite post that you have ever written. They are all so beautiful, but this one tugs at my heart strings like no other. I love the saying "Be kind to everyone, for everyone is fighting a different battle." It is so true and we never know when a smile or kind word is going to be the difference in someones day!

Thanks for being you, Courtney! Your blog is such a light in my day!

Thisisme. said...

Such a touching and beautiful post dear friend. Well said! You certainly don't stutter in your beautiful writing and, even if you do stutter, you are a truly beautiful person inside and out, and we, your blogging friends, are so thankful that you are in our lives. "Be kind to everyone that you meet, for you never know what burden they might be carrying."

angie on maui said...

You write so beautifully. Reading your posts is very much like getting lost in a good book. :)

kate said...
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kate said...

i just recently found your blog and let me tell you it has been nothing short of a blessing. your words are so sweet and captivating. i found myself reading pages and pages wanting more. it's like a good book you can't put down. what you have written is exactly what i have been needing to hear and this mornig after reading this post i thanked God for finding your blog.

please keep writing and inspiring and never stop singing :)

becca said...

beautifully written

Amber Blue Bird said...

this is so true. We never know what someone else is going through. Everyone is walking around dealing with their own problems and trying to work them out as best they can. Its nice to be reminded of that though...its easy to forget

Jessica said...

What better way to start my week than with one of your beautiful posts! So true my friend.

The Many Colours of Happiness said...

This was such a beautiful piece of writing. It really made me think. About how I sometimes judge people, sum them up with a word. If someone's rude then they're 'mean' or 'nasty'. But you're right, there's so much more to everyone and we don't know their story. Once there was this boy in my class who was just awful to everyone. And I hated him. But years later I learned that he was the sole carer for his dying mother.
I'm definitely going to take this lesson on board.
Thank you for this beautiful start to the day :)

SarahB said...

Thank you for posting this. I have been butting heads with a friend of mine but after reading all this it makes sense now. I felt like there was an issue deeper then what she was expressing and I am sure there is.

Brandi {not your average ordinary} said...

I need to tell you how glad I am you commented on my blog, because I'm seriously blown away by you and this post and your writing. I don't have words. At all.

LittleSilkDress said...

"to talk to him was a game of roulette"

Powerful. Powerful post. Always love reading your written word.

b. lee said...

u always throw me back with ur words * once again, another beaut' post * thanx ;)

charla beth said...

this is INCREDIBLY powerful. exactly what i needed to find this morning.

thank you for your words. you have the gift of reaching people's hearts and touching them where they need it the most. please never stop writing!

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