We are so focused on what is different about others we miss how much alike we truly are.
This has been a less than optimal week and none of the posts I had planned to write got written. So I am presenting you a post from my past.
This was originally written in October 2013. I hope you enjoy it.
Attitude? Yeh, I got Attitude!
According to the Free Dictionary on the Internet there are five definitions to attitude:
- A position of the body or manner of carrying oneself
- a) A state of mind or feeling; disposition
b). An arrogant or hostile state of mind or disposition
- The orientation of an aircraft’s axis relative to a reference line or plane
- The orientation of a spacecraft relative to its direction of motion
- A position similar to an arabesque in which a ballet dancer stands on one leg with the other raised either in front or in back and bent at the knee
For the sake of this post I am only concerned with definitions one and two. We all have attitude. It’s what allows us to make it through the day in one piece. Not all ‘attitude’ is negative and yet when we use that word we are usually referring to someone with bad attitude. Attitude is a word that describes a disposition. It is not a negative or positive, it just is.
Definitions three, four and five refer to attitude as a position in relation to the world around the main item. I would like to posit that one’s psychological attitude is directly related to one’s physical attitude. That actually makes sense if you think about.
The way we deal with the world is in part how we were raised, how others interact with us and how we feel on any given day. On a day when I feel miserable you can bet that my attitude is going to be bad. But on a day when everything is going well my attitude is going to be positive and cooperative.
We use attitude to describe behaviours that we may find distasteful. Is it an accurate way to describe people? Probably not, but we describe people based on our own background. We can use the physicality but that only gets you so far. We are so much more than what you see. People are multifaceted, like those Russian nesting dolls, there’s more under the next layer.
Here’s a subversive idea for you: people are all the same. We all started in the same place: the primordial sludge and we will all end up in the same place: dust in the wind. Everything else is cosmetic. Physically anyway. The real value is in the kind of person we are. Nice guy versus schmuck. Victim versus tyrant. And what is it that makes one person caring and open and another self centered and cruel? Who knows? What makes one person a savant and another an idiot? Luck of the draw? Why does one person get a disease and another go through life unscathed? You can spend your entire life asking questions that have no answer or you can change the equation. Concentrate on the little picture: you. The big picture is made up of a lot of little pictures. We need to focus on what we can accomplish, on how we live our lives. Do we care about others and try to contribute to the greater good or do we simply exist and only take? We do have it in our power to decide. True immortality is achieved through the memories of others.
Hello! She said
Her smile intact
A beautiful place.
No one answered
They turned away
Hello! She said
A hopeful grin
Trying to stay
A single child
Stopped and looked
Shy and tentative
Hello. She said
Her smile had dimmed
Hello? He asked
Was anyone there
Hello! She laughed
All was well
A single light
Hello!! She shouted
The world to hear
A single voice
Now that sounds like a mighty provocative statement don’t you think? But what does it mean? Am I going to end someone’s existence? Murder? Or am I going to end the existence of that hamburger on that plate?
Context. It’s all about context. And quite frankly ‘Kill’ could mean any number of things: ruin something, overpower, block, hurt, make time pass, laugh . . . . the list is pretty extensive. Confused yet?
I speak one language well (well, pretty well) and I will acknowledge it is a rather confusing language. “Stay where you’re at, and I’ll come where you’re to”. Drive on a parkway and park on a driveway. To anyone to whom English is a second language: Kudos! Even some of us born to it have issues.
I am finding more and more that it is not how well I speak that is important, it is how well I am understood. And the onus is not on the person to whom I am speaking, rather it is on me. I love words. I have a university degree in English. I often use words that are multiple syllables long and sometimes archaic. To my ear I am speaking appropriately. Unfortunately it is not my ear that I am speaking to. I was in a grocery store the other day and looking for a particular item. I was looking for aubergines. For the life of me I could not remember it’s common name. When I asked I was told that they didn’t sell exotic items. I was looking for eggplants.
I love the fact that I live in a multicultural nation. I love the fact that people from all over the world choose to come to my beautiful country. I believe we are stronger for that. But it also presents difficulties that I’m quite sure 30 years ago we never thought about: everyday conversations. And then of course you have the generation that speaks in symbols, short forms and acronyms. The flavour of the word is lost when you LOL. The first person that ever used that acronym for me was a dear, dear friend. I thought it meant Lots of Love. You can imagine my chagrin when an acquaintance used it. Context my friends, context.
There is a marvellous scene in an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation where one character holds up a hot cup of tea and asks another how he would explain what she is holding in her hand, to an alien race. For those of you in the know it was counsellor Troy and Capt. Picard. Was she holding hot, liquid, glass, cup of tea, beverage? And if the alien race had no concept of drinking a cup of tea how do you explain it to them? And that is our problem here in present-day Earth. Context.
All over the world things are done differently in different countries. They refer to things by different names. When we come together there’s a great deal of miscommunication. Our job is to keep trying to communicate until we’re all on the same page. When I write that down it seems like such an easy thing to do. And yet you know as well as I do easy is harder then it looks. We will never, ever fail as long as we keep trying. I’ll keep trying and I’ll stop looking for aubergines!