“Judgments prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances.” -Wayne Dyer
The other day I was writing at a community table at Starbucks when an older man asked if he could sit next to me. Since our chairs were backed up against a wall, I had to get up to facilitate this.
I thought he was looking at me in a slightly strange way, but I put this out of my mind. We were sitting side by side in a confined space, not walking down a dark alley together—there was no reason to be alarmed.
Several hours after he’d left, he came back in to use the bathroom. When he saw me, he said, “Wow, you’re still here.”
I responded, “Yup, I pretty much live here. It’s my unofficial office.” And we both laughed a little. Again, he was looking at me in a way that made me feel uncomfortable.
Then he asked me what I do.
After I told him a little about Tiny Buddha, he told me that his passion is music—and then he offered to show me this trailer for a documentary he’d made.
If it were online, I would have posted it, because it moved me, and reminded me how music can inspire, connect, and heal. I could see he was proud and excited to share this, and I felt grateful for having seen it.
After it ended, he told me music means so much to him partly because he was born 80% deaf. After many operations, his sense of hearing has improved dramatically, but still, it isn’t perfect.
That’s why he’d been looking at me in a way that seemed odd; he was trying to read my lips.
I almost completely judged him by appearances and assumptions—and if I had, I would have missed the fleeting opportunity to see inside his heart and find a piece of myself.
I write and publish a lot of posts about opening up and reserving judgment, and yet sometimes it’s still instinctive to shut down and close people out.
It’s even more tempting when we suspect there’s something to fear. Of course it’s always best to follow our instincts when we genuinely feel we’re in harm’s way.
But the truth is we rarely are. Most often, we’re sitting side-by-side with someone just like us, who has something amazing to share if only we’re open to receiving it.
Photo by Akuppa