We all have that slightly over optimistic check list stored in the back of our minds of the great things we would like to accomplish during our lifetime. For me, the first few things wouldn’t be too optimistic. I mean, it would just include the usual, like becoming a lifesaving cardiovascular surgeon, eventually changing pace and becoming a freelance, free of worry, free spirited writer, and becoming the MILF supermom who somehow manages to balance a career, a hobby, and three adopted kids all while still keeping it nice and hot with her husband. I mean, piece of cake.
But, maybe around item number four, the bane of the checklist where you’re allowed to slack off a bit, is where I keep my distant goal of becoming a person who displays the under appreciated characteristic of complete and utter understanding. It’s a reach.
This is not synonymous with being a sympathetic person. A sympathetic person’s kind of understanding only emerges during times of pain and distress. They’re good people – the kind that knows how to comfort you when you’ve miserably failed a test or when your pet has just passed away. But the kind of person I want to be is more than that. I want to become the kind of person that is able to understand the actions of others; to put themselves in the shoes of others before brazenly judging. Perhaps a better adjective would be compassionate.
Judging, I think, is a kind of arrogant thing. It puts you on a pedestal above everyone you sneer at because by pointing out their faults, you somehow have justified in your twisted mind, that they have been degraded to a lower status. But I also think that it is kind of sad. The insecure underdog doesn’t get it, doesn’t understand why someone would want to do drugs, or dye their hair green, or be in the school play. So it responds by reprimanding their actions, when really, it is just a hermit that hasn’t seen enough of the world to understand. Of course, this could just be me rambling on with my nonsensical gibberish, trying to make sense of what little of the world I have encountered, but I can vouch for myself and say that when I judge I am judging the ones different from me. I judge the girl who has a new boyfriend every week. I judge the boy that always lies about his grades. I judge the teacher that went to Princeton only to teach at our dingy school. I judge because I don’t get why?
So, I want to become the person who is able to understand these people. Not just for the sake of those around me, but for myself as well. I want to always give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the girl is insecure, only finding shelter in the caving compliments from her many boyfriends; maybe she just likes to get around and have fun! And maybe the boy is embarrassed, and wants a quiet way to avoid vicious judgment of people like me. Maybe the teacher just enjoys teaching! In listening to their stories with open ears, in giving them advice with an open mind, and in trying my best to comprehend – why? – with an open heart I hope that I will be able to broaden my perspective and become just the tiniest less judgmental.
As of now, I know I still have a long way to go. I have a long way to go before I become a surgeon, or a writer, or a mom, let alone master this art of true understanding. I like to whisper, and gossip, and talk trash about people that annoy me. But until the day that I do achieve this stage of transcendence, the empty unchecked box next to my fourth goal will always serve as a reminder.