Miss Betty

She was beautiful, her white hair appropriately cut, her large, round, gold framed sunglasses reflecting the few clouds hovering above Parker’s Lake in the otherwise clear blue sky. Her thin, pale hand pulling on the pretty little leash attached to her small Bichon mix. She walked in her comfortable shoes towards me along the asphalt path. I had stopped to photograph a turtle sunning itself on a rock just off shore, and when I turned and saw her she smiled a crooked smile and wished me a sunny day. I responded with “me and the turtle wish you the same miss”.

She paused, she didn’t know me; I wore a blue t-shirt exposing my tattoos and faded jeans and cheap, dark sunglasses. Then she turned full round and stepped back towards me only a single step and threw her tired arms in the air and said “who couldn’t enjoy a day like this”. I introduced myself and said “indeed it’s a beautiful day, almost as much as you miss.” She stepped closer this time and stuck her hand out, I grasped her hand gently and gave her my name, she told me I seemed like a nice guy to which I replied…”my fiancée seems to think so” and she slapped her knee and whipped around and said “oh darn it’s always the nice one aint it!” I laughed and she asked about my fiancée.

Leaning against a rock wall along Parker’s Lake under a strong and warm spring sun we chatted about love and politics and travelling, OCD, addiction and recovery. I was already late getting back to work after lunch but I didn’t care, she was sweet and funny and we quickly became friends. She had spoken about a book she was reading called Switching on Your Brain by Caroline Leaf and how it had transformed how she saw things. She said it showed her how to be happier…by choosing to be happy, she has OCD she said and her husband is a recovering alcoholic and she spoke about how sometimes we just need to decide to be happy and that it doesn’t matter what others believe or whether or not they accept us as we are, it’s up to us whether or not we choose to be happy on our own terms.

She patted me on the arm and said that we were meant to meet today, we saw eye to eye on some things and not so on others but we both enjoyed each other’s company for a little while on what had already been a beautiful day, but now had become much more than that for me. When we allow ourselves to remain open to what’s around us we invite opportunities to be rewarded, sure that means we can be hurt too, there’s always an innate risk there when we make ourselves vulnerable, but I’ll take that risk any day! Thank you Miss Betty.

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Acceptance

I rarely just post a quote or a statement or what have you, but sometimes I have fleeting moments where I feel things I cannot seem to pen into a certain place, sometimes it is just a word, often times a sentence or a reflection of a belief or refracted emotions streaming through my mind from the world around me.

In a time when there is so much diversity to be witnessed, so much beautiful variance to be seen, the world is full of people whom practice intolerance towards those who are dissimilar in their practices, or religions of appearances’ or political views.

And to fix things, to be better we are told we ought to apply tolerance, but I disagree, I can tolerate a certain level of pain, I can tolerate those whom badger or treat others with disrespect, I can even tolerate bad smells.

But I don’t think we should simply be tolerating each other, I believe we ought to accept each other, for our differences, for our varying beliefs and colors and our talents.

It is my belief that we should practice acceptance for those who’ve chosen a different path, and admiration for the strength it takes to do so and maintain their course.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe there is room in this world for those whom purposely hurt others, for those whom make it their purpose to eliminate and cause pain rather than love and honor and respect.

I will protect those less vulnerable, those who are victims of such behavior with whatever breath and strength I have, it’s an oath I took as a friend, a parent, as a soldier and as a member of society. We in America have lost much of our way, I don’t believe that those whom erected Lady Liberty at our shores thought, “We shall tolerate those damned, those lost…” I think they believed in a world where we could accept those from abroad whom are being persecuted for their differing beliefs and so on.

Love is not tolerance, love is acceptance, honor, admiration and celebration for who those around us, in all of their selves, strengths, weaknesses, mistakes, differences and all.

Are we capable, can we evolve beyond tolerance to acceptance?