Gratitude and the Baguette of Judgement

Imagine, if you will, that you’ve had a horrendous day and cannot possibly handle one more thing going wrong without absolutely losing your sanity. And then it does. And EVERYTHING else that happens afterwards is exponentially worse than if all was right in your world.  I know I’ve had these days. 

My Friday in the office ends between 12:30 and 1:00, typically.  Before I head off to the yoga studio, I swing through the store to find something to tide me over until dinner, go home and chill for a few minutes, change from scrubs into yoga clothes and leave again. My routine this past Friday was no different.  

The weather had been tumultuous for the last few days with storms and, if it wasn’t storming, the humidity was at 99.99999%.  I think I was the only person truly embracing the heat, as air conditioning and I do not have the best working relationship. In cold weather, people are quiet, usually drawing into their coats, not saying much because they’re trying to stay warm.  When they do strike up conversation or even make small talk, it’s more often than not pleasant. It is TOTALLY the opposite scenario when the mercury is ready to burst out of the thermometer. Statistically, violence rises when the weather is oppressive.  Tempers are short, people are uncomfortable which makes them more irritable, hell, even giving someone a hug can be gross and getting one is an even more undesirable situation.  Take ALL of this into account and add in your horrible-terrible-rotten-miserable-screaming-worst day Ever.  The sum of this equation is different in detail for each individual, but overall, let’s suffice it to say that it ain’t pretty. 

Already running behind schedule leaving work on Friday, the stop for a protein bar was a must as I didn’t have much time to eat anything. I had been busy practicing nonreaction while folks seemingly forgot the rules to parking lot up rows and down rows, the rules to waiting for a spot, all while at the same time the entire village drove to the same grocery store. 

Scrubs sticking to my body, I walked into the store expecting to brace for the icy grocery store air conditioning before it could turn the sweat beads on my skin into a smooth frosty covering. I forgot all about that as I felt my temperature rise when I heard a woman berating the young girl bagging her groceries.  She was seething over the way the girl had bagged her loaf of French bread. All I heard, as did the entire check out area of the store, was, 

“Don’t they train you on how to put groceries in a bag? Are you that stupid that you can’t figure out which end of this baguette goes into the bag? “

And the belittling went on for the longest two or three minutes while everyone just stopped, mouths agape, until someone from the staff came to save this poor girl.  Whether she bagged bread side out or bread side in doesn’t matter.  She did not deserve to be publicly humiliated like that.  Before I could even process what happened, I found the most snarky “Mrrrrrrrowr,” escape from my lips! “What? Was that…did I say that? Nooooooo….couldn’t have been….I’ve been working on this…EPIC FAIL in the nonjudgment department!”

At the same time that I was passing judgment on someone else, I found that I was also passing judgment on myself. And that’s when my practice kicked in. 

I stopped in my tracks. What about the screaming woman? What else happened in her day to cause that much upset over bread? We are located just a few blocks from the hospital – what if something just happened to a loved one and she was on her way there? There could have been any  number of explanations. I had to stop and consider her circumstances, not to judge her behavior. I had to not only notice the young girl standing mortified and scared, but I needed to take note of the woman, needed to allow for whatever pain brought her to the boiling point. 

I did not admonish myself or burden myself with guilt for judging and reacting, but rather, I acknowledged that failure, and the learning and growing that immediately followed.  I am still practicing.  We are all still practicing. Everyday. With practice, their are mistakes laden with opportunities for learning and growing.  With practice, the mistakes become fewer and farther between, but we always keep practicing. 

I am so grateful that I had this chance to wobble and lose my balance for a moment, for it allowed me to find my way back to Center.  When have you judged or reacted and what was your take away?

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