I talk often in my writings of the need for openness in perception, the lack of expectations, such that another human being can exist more fully in their potential, which is ultimately infinite. I write of this often because it is one of my frequent, daily shortcomings in my interaction with strangers. By the way, if you ever feel that my writing is preachy, take it with a grain of salt, because I am not preaching necessarily to anyone but myself. Writing is a way for me to discuss issues and provide myself with advice that normally I can’t distance enough in daily life to see.
Anyway, so in the professional sphere, dealing with rich, complacent assholes is a frequent occurrence. Actually, a lot of them aren’t assholes. They are just weak minded and kind of pitiful in their ignorance of reality. They make a lot of money but they don’t have such basic social skills as courtesy or the ability to hold a conversation with someone outside of their limited social sphere. They drive an SUV mindlessly, without any idea of what cost such a thing might have to anyone else. They have spoiled, obnoxious children who will most likely grow up to be just as dumb and sheltered as they are. They like to power-trip over people who are only courteous to them because it is their job.
I can’t stand these kind of people, and unfortunately I have to deal with them frequently. But the truly unfortunate thing is that out of the numbers of people that I see every day, it is really only a few who are like that. But that few taints my perception of all the rest. And so I end up classifying a whole group of people and writing them off, such that I really don’t give any of them a chance to be anything more than just another moronic, well-off American.
It’s hard, incredibly hard, to shake off negativity once some stranger has been rude to you. I worked as a ticket seller for a gigantic ski resort one winter, and I dealt with a lot of rich to pretending-to-be-rich people who only knew how to be demeaning and dehumanizing to me once they couldn’t get their way. It got to be after a while that I wouldn’t be truly nice or open with anyone at my window, because every individual turned in my mind into a stream of idiots, bitches, and assholes. And everyday, every hour, there would be some idiot to reconfirm that. So I would just be indifferent and cold to all of them.
It’s like that receptionist, you know the one, at the doctor’s office, or that person who you talked about your refund with at the customer service window–that employee who was just outright rude to you, and seemed to derive no pleasure in life except to be rude to you for no reason. We’ve all dealt, way too often, with such a person, and they ruin our day. They are unhappy, bitter people. You know that all they do is go home and then talk shit about people from work.
I’ve been that person from time to time. All it takes is one rude motherfucker, and I close up and try to limit my interactions with guests as much as possible. And I thus effectively close off any potential in any of these people to be anything but what I view them to be. Every now and then there is that one person or family who is truly, genuinely nice and warm, and it is a shame if I can’t allow them to be that in my mind or in my interactions with them. And the fact is, further, that even the worst asshole, even the most representative complacent, close-minded sheltered bigot, has a side of warm intelligence and creativity, in which they can be viewed and understood within their own unique, personal context. It is simply that I must get beyond my own ego, I have to learn to see the bigger picture–such that if someone is being rude to me, that I should not take it personally. Such that even if someone has been sheltered and suckled on ignorance and wealth all their life, they still have that boundless potential as God. To allow myself to be mired in bitterness against them is a waste of my heart and mind.
It is, of course, much easier to say this than to manifest it in my life. But I’m hoping that if I say it enough, it will work its charm. Because I believe quite firmly that it is in the everyday that the world is changed, and if I or anyone else can’t get beyond appearances than we are just allowing the bullshit to perpetuate. It is not just Gandhis who change the world–it is the nurse you dealt with at the hospital, it is the guy who took your change at the Taco Bell, it is the person crossing the street at the stop sign, it is every person in your day, every person in your life, every little positive interaction. You know that warm feeling you get, when you smile at a complete stranger who is only interacting with you because it is business, and you get a smile back, and it is real? And you’ve actually connected to this person, and you’ve made their day, and they’ve made yours? That is what it is to cross boundaries and change the world. Positivity. Every day. Every moment. The potential in every person for love is boundless.