"It may not be the way it looks, but sometimes that's all anyone can see" Nicky Nichols-Orange Is The New Black.
How true and how sad a statement that fits into anyone's life at almost any time. For me, this seems to be a reoccurring theme. My life will never appear to strangers and even friends the way it really is. For most of you, you would see my life as some kind of lonely self-imposed exile. Perhaps because of the hurt I've caused in the past or perhaps because of the hurt that has been done to me. Gun shy works both ways if you can still feel. And apparently, on a good day, I do. Most of you will never see it as me being happy alone and exactly where I want to be. You superimpose your ideas of happiness onto my life and if it doesn't measure up I must be sad. Appearances.
How many of you feel like on paper you just don't look as experienced as you are? Or that that same piece of paper makes you appear like a job hopper rather than a victim of the job shrinking economy? That no one looks at all of your experience as invaluable free knowledge, over and above what the position calls for.
Or that your relationship from the outside looking in is quite different than what happens behind closed doors? Your family pictures displayed traditionally in matching frames and matching outfits, only mask the fact that you have enough time alone to create the perfect room. Your Sunday best outfits that you wear to church disguise a prideful heart or painful bruises. The fast cars, latest tech gadgets and most current fashions flaunt a fat wallet, or do they point to a fat credit card debt?
White privileged children in the park are only playing while children of color are a gang?
An unescorted woman is going to meet her husband/boyfriend/girlfriend(s), but is treated like fair game to publically ask to "smile baby" or to follow her down the street and say much more explicit things regarding her wardrobe or body type worse to try to 'compliment' or shame her. Or leer at until she feels uncomfortable enough to take your picture or call the police? While an escorted woman is left alone. Ask yourself would you say these things to her if she were your daughter, wife or mother?
Two men (or women) alone, talking or sharing a meal, must be gay?
A homeless person is a bum and a loser, rather than a person living from paycheck to paycheck and the paychecks stopped? Or an ignored Vet who gave everything for your freedom? Or an abandoned wife and mother with nowhere else to go?
A bully on the playground is a child that has not had enough discipline and the child that is bullied is a wimp or are they verbally and/or physically abused at home? One acting out in anger and other self-preservation habits from that physical or verbal abuse called 'love'.
Tolerance, respect, inclusion, basic manners, patience, understanding, putting yourself in others shoes, love...these are all emotions and frames of mind that I find grossly lacking in my fellow humans.
We need to start treating each other the way we want to be treated. I believe some religions call this The Golden Rule, and that seems like as good a name as any. It's a very simple thing to do, but so few even try. As a writer, I watch people every day, and the automatic judgement I see in their eyes frightens me for the future of humanity. We are all guilty of this, and we need to question our first reactions to people, our first impressions or appearances. I'm not saying that you need to alter who you are or who you want to present yourself as. I'm suggesting the opposite. For if everyone took a moment in time to just think of an alternative to their first judgement call on an individual, we might all be nicer and safer out there.