“Who we are in the present, includes who we were in the past.” ~ Mr. Fred Rogers
I am struck by how we react to events. Through out the day there are moments and events, and all manner of things, to stimulate the senses. And, we interpret them through the screens of our experiences. We are every age we have ever been. There’s no telling which screen might pop up to alter your interpretation of an event. Do we look with the wonder of a child, with the self doubt of a teen, with a jaded assurance, with a misplaced anger or with a patient acceptance? Each screen has the ability to change our perception and thus our experience of the moment we are living.
Sometimes we are our wide eyed innocent selves. This is certainly the age and mind set I enjoy most and is what Spontaneous Smiley is all about. Here’s an example from this morning: I needed to memorize a phone number. I found myself chanting it as I made coffee and toast. It turned into a nice little ditty to dance to in the kitchen. And so danced I did, danced with abandon (Here’s where you think: this woman needs to get a life. I have a life. This is my life. I’ve decided to enjoy the little stuff because life is, after all, just lots and lots of little stuff!).
Other times we are our overly self conscious teenage selves. I sure wish this screen popped up less often. It’s good to remember that you are not the star in the “movie” that is another person’s life. They are busy starring as themselves in their movie, hardly even noticing you because you are merely in a supporting roles or maybe even just an “extra” in their movie. They hardly have time to notice you at all, what with interpreting events as they relate to themselves. You can rest assured that they certainly aren’t keeping track of how many times you flub up. I had to remind myself of this during Jazzercise this morning.
We’ve all experienced feelings of anger or pain, not about what was actually happening, but coming from a memory that surfaced. Suddenly we start to interpret this moment though that old screen. We make an otherwise fine moment into something unpleasant.
The thing about these screens, these ways of reacting that harken back to times and events not really relevant to the moment, is that we can learn to recognize when are tweaking reality by looking at a situation with an irrelevant screen. Truly none of the other middle aged women at Jazzercise could give a hoot that I had two left feet today. I only looked like a fool to myself and only then because I had allowed myself to interpret it that way. After about 20 minutes and many awkward missteps I realized my feeling embarrassed (my using the screen of Ruth the awkward teen desperate to fit in), was something I was choosing. So I consciously chose to accept the fact that for whatever reason today I was off kilter. I might as well spend the remaining 40 minutes looking at the situation through the screen of Ruth the class clown. That’s when I started to have fun.
I’m clearly still working on it. We all are. I look forward to getting older and older, to the day when I can use today’s Ruth as the screen for the events in my days. Why? Because today’s Ruth is pretty easy going, pretty non-critical and pretty much at peace*. For this I am deeply grateful.
Smile. Be Happy.
* Still a bit of a struggle for me when wearing spandex and trying to stay on the beat.