I used to fight quite a bit as I was growing up. I never was particularly good at it, and I always felt worse, never better, when it was over. I won a few and lost a few, but there was either embarrassment or remorse attached to the outcome.
I was highly insecure, which led me to be extremely anger. My insecurity came out the in the form of arrogance, or cockiness, which was how I tried to hide my fear. I believe that my readiness to throw punches was probably due to my anxiety and absolute loathing of uncertainty. I lust for “black and white”. I need to know if we are friends or enemies, not acquaintances or associates, that is far too vague. There must be a distinction, and the sooner I can determine which side of the fence you are on, the sooner I can move on towards finding peace in my life. (That’s really messed up, I know.)
My point is that now, in adulthood, because of friends, fitness, therapy, and a lot of time googling articles on self-help, I have come to a place where I have some confidence. I am not bubbling over with self-confidence, but I’m not carrying on conversations with new faces and visualizing what part of the jaw, temple, nose, or tooth I am going to swing for if we have a disagreement. I don’t walk into rooms of people and canvas the area for chairs, rods, or projectiles, in preparation for something getting sideways. Mean looks, tough-guy stares, overly-aggressive handshakes, and intentional brush-by’s are not the way I establish a social footing. I am more into hugs and deep, emotional conversations.
I try to pay attention to the world around me, and the social climate of those whom I come into contact. I live in a somewhat rural area, but it it populated and there are subdivisions peppered throughout. I have a route that I run sometimes through the streets of my residence, and the response that I see in people is rather interesting.
People around my area do not seem to like runners. There is not much of a willingness to give the runner any more room than absolutely necessary. In the beginning, there were times when I did fear that someone would happy to run me down, and I feel confident that there would any number of animals who would be more than happy to dispose of any of the evidence. Many of the folks who drove past during my run just seemed down-right angry….but I understand what it looks like to live a life lived in a perpetual state of anger. It was clear that I would be playing a relatively safe game of Chicken on just about every run. The drivers would pass by me in their vehicle and try to stay as close to me as possible, while staying in their lane, and avoiding making contacting with me.
This was the way it was in the past. It is not like that today. I rarely see a scowl, I seldom get forced to the shoulder, and more often than not, I receive a wave…and sometimes even a holler.
I’m gonna tell you how it happened. It attribute it all to a smile and a wave. A consistent and persistent, often painful, and gut wrenching-ly difficult, two-fingered peace sign and a sincere smile. I have done this same movement, consistently, to every single vehicle that has passed along side me, on every single run that I have made through my neighborhood for the past two years.
The strangest part?
It seems to work on everyone. It seems as if no one is immune to the power of passivity, acknowledgement, and a friendly gesture. I have seen people go from an honest desire to mow me down, to a mean look, to mumbling under the breath, to an absolute lack of acknowledgement, to a head nod, to wave and a smile, and better yet….some folks even give me a word of encouragement and a fist pump as they drive past. It’s really a beautiful thing to watch.
Maybe I’m looking at this in an obnoxiously, glass half-full, Pollyanna kind of way, or maybe it’s just that unhappy people find most things obnoxious, and happy people find most things to be relatively positive, I don’t know. I do know that the people in my area, at least the way that I perceive them, have been more willing to treat me a little nicer since I have been willing to relinquish my desire to outrank everyone whom I come into contact, and roll over to show my belly (metaphorically speaking, of course. I apologize for the visual.).
Like water on a rock, is how it often works. People can change, be changed, and have the power to change. I have seen this, I have been part of this, and I have experienced this. If I continue to believe that things will always be the same, then I am confident that they will be. If I remain excited about the excitement that comes with a changing world….well, that seems to be a bit more fun. It’s my decision…most things are.
Have some fun today.
A big smile and a peace sign to you.
Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,