Friday, May 31, 2013

Thursday: Cabin Fever

Today (Friday) is breaking very cloudy. I have been up since 4:00 am.

Yesterday brought dreadful news from a dear friend whom I have known for decades:
"I got bad news today, Andy.  Hate doing this by email but I'll just start crying on the phone.  I've been given a few weeks, possibly a few months.  I'll meet next week with home-care nurses to discuss palliative care/hospice options.  I knew this day would come but just not ready for it.  I'm pretty much in shock."
I wanted to walk and walk and walk and not talk at all but I only got an hour in before the rain came.
The nice thing about walking in iffy weather is that the sidewalks are almost empty.
I have been worrying about my tendency to judge. While in South Africa last winter I had an immediate and powerfully negative response to two people: one was a loud, tattooed macho type-A American and the other was a loud South African grandma whose family invaded the tranquility of the eco reserve I was in, in Namibia. The American was Dave; the South African, Meryl.

Well, right after my immediate distaste response to Dave, he came over and made the most impressive self introduction I have ever experienced and over the course of my stay at Ukutula, he provided me with experiences with the lions there that were truly highlights of my life. And Meryl and every single member of her family charmed me completely and showed me a kindness I will never ever forget.

But what was I going to do about my judgemental nature? I had/have no hope of changing that, but yesterday I discovered something wonderful—I also have immediate positive responses to strangers—it's just that there are fewer of them and they do not stick in my memory like the negative impressions. 

So I no longer worry about my negative impressions—everyone does it, I realize. But I have succeeded in making a change—now I, a comparative introvert—act on my positive impulses. For example:
  • There is a tall stunning woman who I often see in my building. She is young, very tall and thin, and when she smiles, I melt. She is model gorgeous and she positively reeks of sweetness so I told her I found her "stunningly beautiful" and I told her I always found it euphoric to encounter her (and her cute bulldog puppy) in the elevator. PS: I opened by saying I was gay to be clear that I was not a dirty old man inappropriately hitting on her, and she was clearly flattered.
  • A woman of a certain age passed me on Granville Island. She looked absolutely fabulous—smart and stylish, but in a way appropriate to her age and her shoes were FAB-U-LOUS, so I told her how knock-out great her shoes were (and she was grateful for it).
  • I saw a young man get on the bus and start to read his book when he was approached by a man who I would guess is a high-functioning autistic person with a significant extroverted personality. The guy I assumed was autistic was trying to engage people without success—everyone just ignored him and that hurt. I tried to catch his eye because I wanted to talk to him but before I could, he befriended the young reader who closed his book and very comfortably engaged with the man. And when I found myself getting off at the same stop as the young reader, I thanked him for being so kind to the man and we had a very nice short exchange. It left me feeling great.
I doubt I can stop the judging, but I have value in "bitch-offsets."

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