Last week I was on one of those long, glorious walks with my husband along the Bay; the sun was shining, and our conversation was rich as we were both sharing what we were each choosing to celebrate about the day of work we had just completed. And then...
My Thoughts of Judgment
And then, this guy walking his iguana on a leash passed us, all the while talking to his pet the way new parents talk to babies. As heads turned and people pointed, I purposely
looked out over the ocean; ignoring the guy who I was sure was only out there for the attention that pet-walking an iguana can do for you. I internally rolled my eyes and didn't miss a beat of the conversation with my hubby.
A little further along and I saw a couple of guys just proudly standing by their cars. It struck me that they were only there to show off their cars... like they somehow felt cooler just watching people look-over their cars with admiration. Instantaneously, I felt both judgment that anyone would care that much about a car, and pity that their identity was that tied into a possession. I'm pretty sure I looked back out at the ocean. I was not going to be one more gawker who gave them their jollies.
Neither interaction was really in my consciousness; they were just a few of the many thoughts we all see flow down our streams of thought. Had it only been one of them I doubt I would have even realized I had thought it. But choosing to look away from humanity twice got my attention.
I immediately began to process with Greg. "Wow. We're out here in the most beautiful weather, getting fresh air and exercise, and I find myself judging people as we walk by them! What's that about?" I was determined to observe it in myself and bring it into my consciousness.
Then a couple came toward us on what I now think were things called Trikkes. (I just learned that by googling "weird stand-up bike thing.") They were standing on 3-wheel machines that they were guiding to go back and forth, think like a slalom course, by leaning one way and then the other. They definitely had to take up a lot of sidewalk to navigate through the crowds. You, unfortunately, now know where this is going. Why don't they just ride bikes? Only people who want attention would use those!
Understanding Why I Judge
And while I felt an impulse of guilt that I was judging again. The value of having so many examples all at once helped me see the pattern: I was judging people who I deemed as wanting attention.
We then spent the next hour talking about 1) Why I had even assumed that those people had attention as their motive? 2) Whether that was even a bad thing if that was, in fact, their only motive! 3) That don't all humans crave attention, so why would I hold that against someone? 4) Where in my life I seek attention and whether I must think that my way of seeking attention is somehow superior to their method? 5) And that, if that was their call for attention, why was I so set against giving it to them?
It wasn't lost on me, at all, that I love attention. That was a little painful to admit because I apparently hold some strong beliefs that we're not supposed to seek it, that we must pretend it doesn't matter to us, and that we can't admit we like it. But I do. I do like attention. And my guess is that while we all want it from different people and perhaps in different ways, we all want to know we're noticed for whatever is important to us.
My processing has gone on all week... I've been watching myself like a hawk as I interact with people and process their behaviors. Why should someone wanting attention bother me? And can I be more honest with what I see as the shadow-side of me, perhaps looking at where I want attention and why I think I need to act all "false-humble" about it? I've been blown away with some of my thoughts.
My Judgment Says More About Me Than It Does About Them
What wows me is how easy it would have been to not notice this tendency in myself. Or, to notice it, as I may have done before, but not really ever taken the time to really see why it bothers me and what that says about me. Because it's not really strangers on the road that can disrupt my peace; it's what they symbolize to me that I'm reacting to. And I'm reacting to them because there's something in me that wants to react differently.
The Christian Scriptures have often-quoted verses in Matthew 7 that basically say: "Why worry about the speck in your friend's eye, when you have a log in your own?"
I hate to think how long I've been living with judgment in this area.... assuming that there was something wrong with those people. When really there was something far bigger in me.
Because the truth is, when I sit with it, as I have this week, I want to admire people who don't look mainstream and who choose their own unique path in life. That man with the iguana, taking pictures with kids and walking slow with his short-four-legged friend, probably brought more smiles and felt more joy that day than I did! And those guys with cars? Good for them for taking pride in something. And I should just be thrilled that they are hanging out together, being with their friends! And now I'm way impressed with that couple who was willing to go to those lengths to not just exercise, but to be adventurous, fun, and daring.
I am choosing to consciously be fan of people who do things differently.
Now, as I go on my walk, I'm looking at people and whispering, "Good for you! The world needs your spark! I love that you're willing to express yourself!"
And I'm hoping that what I practice giving to others will benefit me too... for one day, I may need to give that same love to myself when I choose to do something different.
Who could have ever guessed that I actually had that much to learn about me from an iguna-walker, boys with muscle cars, and Trikke-riders? Ha!
Other posts on judgment: