Appearances

2015-03-10 13.16.18Remember the old saying about judging the content of a book by its cover? People often judge a person’s appearance in the same way. More and more, initial judgments have resulted in murder because what is represented is not exactly reality.

It’s interesting, I’ve had this post in draft form for a long time. But today I dragged it up because it occurred to me that both this post regarding appearances and one of my last posts called Emotional Intelligence are a bit related.

Let’s see how. Take a person dressed in shabby clothing, one in fashionable street clothes, and one in a tuxedo or fine dress. The majority of people assume that the social status or caste of each of these individuals is demonstrated by the clothes each wears. Do we know these people? Perhaps you know someone like them. So what of clothing? It covers the body because, by golly, it’s illegal not to wear something. And note, that people can change what they wear to suit different situations in life. Heck, it is socially unacceptable to show up at a special occasion, say at a fine wedding, wearing a pair of overalls and nothing else. We dress for those occasions. And on a daily basis, we conform to different styles to suggest who we are before we meet others. The initial judgment, then, is what one hopes for, especially on a first date or interview when impressions seem to mean even more than usual. Can we suggest that people use the initial judgment as a sort of selfish act? The whole idea of dressing to impress is a facade which may or may not accurately represent the person presenting it. I suppose some people like the attention. It’s a shame people cannot wear something without others guessing who is inside. To utilize our emotional intelligence, we should aim to find out who the person is before we make our final judgments. The same applies to celebrities. Are we star struck? Are we impressed by those who flaunt money in the form of clothing or vehicles? Why does it matter?

If you’ve been paying attention to current events, you will have noticed that police officers have gunned down or beaten people to death by appearances. I imagine the academy teaches that certain looks should trigger certain responses while on duty. Body language is one thing that officers will pick up on. Emotional intelligence does help us identify with rowdy behavior and the like. We are human. If we understand ourselves, certainly, we can have a better guess at another’s behavior. Again, it’s a guess. Better to ask questions to learn about another before jumping to conclusions.

How does that apply to the color of one’s skin? If you haven’t noticed, skin color cannot be changed like clothing. Nevertheless it is also used to categorize people. Again, we need to use our Emotional intelligence when it comes to differences of appearances. The next time you are in a situation when you begin to judge someone based on appearances, take a second to remind yourself that even you are not the clothes you wear or the car you drive, so the person you wish to judge isn’t likely to fit your initial judgement either. Take time to get to know people. Decide that individuality and diversity is beautiful. And since I mentioned old sayings at the start of this blog, Luke 6:31 ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’

Joy,
Cheryl

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Clouds, Mountains, and Strawberries

Clouds, Mountains, and Strawberries:

On the flight from Phoenix to Nevada, a smaller plane makes a quick left to get itself out of our way. From my angle, I can see it coming toward our plane; it then make its turn so I could see it move away from us. I had not seen engine trails from this angle before. I could see the side view, the back, and the opposite side as we zip right by in the air. All around the plane the clouds had formed different layers in the sky. Notably, the clouds form the various shapes that we’ve grown accustomed; however, I was able to see them from a perspective never noticed before this particular trip. Their form and layers allowed me to decipher the stratus clouds from the cumulous clouds and I found myself wondering which clouds I liked best. Here’s the thing… Who cares? Right? I allowed that thought to complete itself before really getting to the real perspective of viewing them at this height. What I noticed about these seemly ordinary clouds and my first reaction to choose a preference, is that these clouds demonstrated levels or tiers. On further thought, my analysis moved into thinking of the levels or tiers of society. The upper clouds resembled the posh, fluffy, and exotic shapes that formed mountain peaks only visible as we gained height and looked down upon them. Just under the sun are prime clouds accumulating to either keep heat in the atmosphere or to cause rain, an interesting job. As we descended, the stratus became more visible. There were many of these, and I could sense that the function of these types seemed less important. I would imagine that many of us see society in very much the same way. However, at the moment I was on the ground, these clouds were no less important than any of them. Clouds are clouds. Clouds hold water. That’s their job. So, why would the level of suspension determine any importance at all? It doesn’t. What matters is each has its own beauty and mystique. Clouds are all the same. Shape does not determine anything, including levels of status. Just like people. We are all the same. Our shape does not determine our importance. Having had this thought reminded me of a moment in Jane Austen’s book, Emma. Emma and others visit Box Hill known for strawberries and their varieties, Hautboy, chili, and whitewood. The ladies engage in rising chatter while picking and enjoying before seeking shelter from the immense heat of the sun. During this moment, it is difficult to follow the conversation; however, it is a telling conversation not just of strawberries, but of levels in society. Each of the strawberries has its unique quality, yet none is superior. The novel’s ending is just as charming as its beginning. To see a film adaptation of this classic, view Clueless 1995, written and directed by Amy Heckerling.

(All these thoughts of strawberries may be the reason for picking up a giant carton of them from Costco before the 5-hour road trip to California.)

Flying over the Sierras to Reno is a treat. The mountains are so close, they seem as though you could reach out and touch them; quite a sight to behold. They are as majestic as promised, and humbling. The snow caps are intricately defined. The vast and imposing crags could envelope giants. Surely, aesthetic distance helps us to realize just how tiny we are, and equally diminishes our seemingly huge issues. It is also interesting to note that while the earth gives form to these anomalies, we aim to live in and construct our buildings with geometrical shapes. As we pass over a very circular lake with the mountain’s reflection in them, it can be noticed that the lake formed here at the base has receded over the years as if the levels of water had lowered and washed away the rock further creating the caverns along the sides as the mountains pushed their way upward providing this mirror for the heavens. My window seat pictures do no justice to the beauty of this lake.

Circular Lake at Bottom of Sierras

Circular Lake at Bottom of Sierras

I hope you seek daily adventures and see the true beauty in life. It will help you minimize your fears, anxieties, and problems when you realize the vast and limitless possibilities awaiting you.

Joy,
Cheryl

Acceptance

A few years ago, I learned a valuable virtue from my dog.
Yes, I’ve heard of all the wonderful praises dogs receive from their owners, etc. We can learn patience from them simply because they’re patient with us. Dogs don’t criticize, nor do they judge us. Probably the best quality they have is the ability to love us just the way we are, despite how we see ourselves. Many jokes are shared across the Internet describing this very sentiment:
Don’t you wish you were as great as your dog thinks you are? – Honestly, you are probably pretty great, but you may not accept yourself for who you are. Self-help books aim to help us accept the way we look or behave so we can improve. They may also help to accept the reality of certain situations, especially those which are negative or undesirable. In the process of doing so we find a healthier outlook and hopefully happiness rather than trying to resist or change things.

The common definition for acceptance would be to receive that which has been given to us.

We can look at it as accepting a gift from another: a common event, yes. And very simple. But if poor vision, the loss of a loved one, giftedness, or riches prevail in your life, you must accept that reality, good or not good. And, of course, pleasant things are the easiest to accept.

To be truly accepting is to accept another’s personality traits as you would your own.

With all the different temperaments people possess, it’s often difficult to get along with those we find abrasive.

This is precisely where my metaphor comes in handy to help us realize people have their own bents and habits just like we do.

One day while playing catch with my dog, she stopped to do what dogs sometimes do. She had been running around off the leash somewhere in the acres of land in the back property. Usually she picked up on the scent of something dead and rolled in it, probably so she’d go undetected while she hunted unsuspecting prey. Other times she’d eat the dead, partially eaten animals left in the field by coyotes. At least three times that I can remember, she was skunked because she just couldn’t leave those fluffy waddling skunks alone. She also would run through the house with muddy paws if I wasn’t fast enough to catch her first.
This particular day, to my dismay, she began to cough and throw up some slimy, disgusting particles she obviously could not digest. The worst part is when she proceeds to lick it back up.
If I weren’t there to stop her, she would do just as she pleased like any other time I wasn’t present. Who am I to change her nature?

Now, while this is graphic to an extent, it’s important to understand my metaphor for what it is. I’m not saying people are this disgusting in their behaviors. Not at all. But the next time your spouse doesn’t put the seat down, forgets to put the toothpaste cap back on, or something else despite how often a request has been made, think of this:

I was so grossed out by my dog’s behavior, I caught myself telling her to stop doing what she does. Basically, I yelled at her for being a dog.
What? Yes. I did. Ha ha. Like that would stop her. She was a dog after all.

You see, I cannot stop her for being what she is as much as you can’t stop people for being who they are by nature. Acceptance is a virtue because it allows us to see people as they are and receive any oddities they possess as favorable and thus approve of those oddities. Just because others do things we would not do, doesn’t mean we need to change them. The only person you can change is you. Practice approving others. You may find a core trait that at first seemed odd, but in fact is the trait that makes that person unique.

As far as my pooch goes, now that she’s gone, among other awesome things I miss about her, I also miss the muddy paw prints she’d leave on the carpeting: a sign of life and vibrance.

Joy,
Cheryl