Um… Yep. Of course, I am, why would I be defensive if accused of being soft, of being kind, of wanting more and better for all of humanity? lol It’s hardly an insult. Am I delicate? Probably. My feelings get hurt when I am treated badly, why wouldn’t they be? Don’t I want to be treated well? Of course, I do. I want that for you, for all of us, for everyone. Why would I want anything else? So. Let’s put that whole “insulted by being accused of something good” silliness to rest, shall we? I’m a snowflake? Am I that? Something different? I am human… I appreciate my individual qualities as I see them… I appreciate yours… We’re each having our own experience on life’s journey. Sometimes it snows. 😉

There were undeniably snowflakes. They fell and melted away as snowflakes do.

There were undeniably snowflakes. They fell and melted away as snowflakes do.

I’ve been having to remind myself regularly that my best qualities are not flaws merely because they are shouted at me as insults, or snidely pointed out as weaknesses or limitations, and more often than not by those who lack those qualities, entirely. People who are so frightened, insecure, and in so much personal pain that they have lost sight of their shared humanity; all they have left is their anger. Well… shit. I get angry, too. Sometimes their anger infests me, plagues me, spreads from their consciousness to mine like a disease… of dis-ease. Ick. Makes me want to shower my brain. 🙂

We aren’t the insults directed our way by the hurt, the angry, the misled, the frustrated, the annoyed, the foolish, or the deranged. We’re also not the compliments lavished on us by friends, loved ones, passing strangers on a good day… or the foolish, or deranged. Too often I have found myself cherishing or resenting a handful of words tossed my way by another human being, sometimes with an intention that is not obvious to me in the moment. Words have power… the power we give them. Words are also just words, lacking in substance until substance is acknowledged. Funny magical things, words. Use your magic powers with care!

I attended an interesting meeting in the not too distant past. Everyone showed up with their laptops. Most people showed up with their cell phones. There was a meeting agenda, crafted in advance to ensure efficiency. A list of topics and action items was developed. People came to the table with the intention of achieving goals and moving projects forward. Most speakers, as the meeting unfolded, found themselves repeating material – often more than once – and defending, refuting, or clarifying points not made, and details not outlined, because the other participants were not actually fully listening at all; they were on the laptops, working, or on their devices, texting. “Multi-tasking”. I chuckle when I consider the pointless waste of precious time that 90 minutes turned out to be. Nearly everyone involved ended up following up with each other in the hours after the meeting to clarify important concerns, details, or verify expected action items after-the-fact, because in a very real sense, they didn’t actually attend that meeting, at all. Since then, I take a notepad and a pen to meetings, no connected devices. I set expectations with colleagues that I am away from my desk and unavailable. I engage the material being presented. I walk away fairly certain I understand my role. It’s such a huge improvement that when I host a meeting, myself, my first ask is that everyone mute their cell phones, set those aside, and close their laptops. Laptops don’t have meetings, people do. lol

I find myself wondering how much of the contentiousness of the world, the refusal to see eye-to-eye or acknowledge shared concerns or to collaborate, is a byproduct of not being in the moment, involved together, engaging each other directly, present and listening deeply? Quite probably mostly all of it. lol There’s a huge difference between calling a faceless group of people you’ve never met “liberal liars” or “conservative morons” than to directly, face-to-face, challenge the perspective of a human being in a skillful way. Dealing with our fears, or our insensitivity, or our cruelty surely starts with recognizing it, discussing it honestly, frankly, and without nastiness? Doesn’t that also require that we be listening when someone is talking?

Who are you? What are you afraid of? Can you hear me? Are you listening?

Listening isn’t my greatest strength, I admit. I interrupt a lot. Too much. I recognize how rude that is. I practice listening deeply. I practice a lot. The woman I most want to be is known for how well she listens; it’s something to work towards. An entire community of people who listen to each other, from the youngest voter, to the oldest elder official in office, and all the layers of human beings living lives in between… wouldn’t that change the world?

I’ll keep practicing. 🙂