Competing Visions

My husband and I just spent a few magical days on Maryland’s eastern shore at a historic and charming inn. We had gradually become oblivious to exactly how noisy our lives are. At the moment, there is construction outside our home and, inside, our rather noisy air-conditioner is an almost constant companion. For a few idyllic days, we reveled in sitting outside, strolling and kayaking, hearing only bird calls and the water lapping against the rocky shore.

Initially, our retreat was planned for a few weeks ago. Various obligations surfaced, and we realized that later in the month would work better for us. We had already passed the ‘cancel without penalty’ date and so, without much optimism, we called the inn and asked if we could reschedule. They cheerfully and graciously moved our reservation.

Mind you, had our intention been to cancel entirely, we now had an additional week to do so without losing our deposit. The owners of the inn gambled that we were honest and well-intentioned. As, indeed, we were.

Our departure date arrived and before getting on the road we pulled into a gas station to fill up. As we lined up next to the pump, a car swung alongside us and a belligerent man shouted at us. “You cut me off. You saw me and cut me off.” Of course, we had not. His demeanor suggested that he was about as open to conversation as a raging bull. We opted for discretion rather than justice and moved on.

As we did so, I was filled with pity for this man. I conjecture that he had completely bought into a victim mentality and that he saw the world and the people in it as intent on insulting and hurting him. Unlike our soon-to-be acquaintances at the inn, his judgment leapt to the negative.

Judging people positively does not mean being a fool. I certainly recommend against sending money to the Nigerian prince who emails you. But buying into a mindset that you are trapped in misery is a losing path. If your life experience informs you that others only look to take advantage of you, then doing whatever you can to seek a new social group may be your best hope for salvation. Anger, bitterness and resentment are toxic fuels.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this Susan’s Musings post.
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