Pondering the Pavement

February 5, 2015

Intention Intervention

“Be your own face value, the living embodiment of your word. Your actions are not merely a reflection of your intentions—they ARE part of you, no different than a limb or muscle. Every move, every reaction, every intention speaks volumes. Do your part to ensure that what you are saying is indeed what you want heard.”

– The Collective

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I don’t make many demands in my life. I just have a small handful of requirements in order to make various experiences more enjoyable, tolerable. Never serve me a sandwich with mayonnaise on or near it. Never put lemon in my tea for any reason because no good will come of it. Never, under any circumstance, sing along with the radio if you’re in my home or car. And, finally, just leave me the hell alone when I’m traveling. Don’t talk to me, approach me or, if possible, even exhale in my direction. I have a particularly deep intolerance of chatty taxi drivers. Drive, don’t speak, and we’ll get along famously. I have no idea why I’m this way. I’m completely fine with Joe Shmoe Stranger striking up a conversation with me if I’m standing in line at my local post office. But if I’m in an airport just get away from me as if I haven’t bathed in a fortnight.

My Guides are always nudging me to get out of my routine, to shake things up a bit. Nudge, in this case, is an all-too-polite euphemism for treating me like their own personal Whack-A-Mole. So, against my better judgment and instinct, I gave their advice a shot when a moment of so-called opportunity presented itself.

I was dragging my sleepy self onto the commuter tram in the Pittsburgh Airport after enduring a redeye flight from LA last December. The sparse pedestrian population in the terminal told me that my flight was probably one of the first to come in that morning. I made my way to the tram quickly and quietly with absolutely no interaction. When I boarded I was most pleased to see that there was only one other person on the train. There’s nothing like open space after being stuffed in an overly populated flying sardine can for several hours. My fellow traveler looked up at me from her newspaper as I stepped on the train. She simply said, “Good morning.”

HateXmasI responded in kind. Then, after a moment, I thought I’d push that envelope Robert & Crew are constantly throwing up at me. So I added, “Merry Christmas.”

Boy, was that a mistake. She whipped her head up from her newspaper as her eyes widened. “I don’t celebrate Christmas!” she hissed.

Without missing a beat I replied, “And Christmas is the better for it.”

She turned her self-righteous nose back into her periodical as I rolled my eyes. Bonding ceased at that very instant.

So what was the point of this delightful experience with this human Care Bear? Well, for one thing, it’s given me a great story. But it is also a damn fine lesson in the simple power of intent.

OK, so she doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Big fat hairy deal. No one will ever accuse me of being Father Christmas. Scrooge’s philosophy of the holiday being a poor excuse to pick a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth day of December resonates deeply within me. However, I do understand the sincerity of passing along to another the simple, heartfelt wish for a Merry Christmas. I have Jewish friends who wish me a Happy Hanukah every year. I’m not Jewish—my covered dish encased Methodist upbringing proves that—but I am quite happy to receive their sincere wish. I can pass a Merry Christmas on to them and they, too, are good with it. Why? Because it’s the intent, the sincerity, that rings true.

I understand that our opinions and beliefs are sacred to each of us. But why does one feel compelled to throw them in someone else’s face in the most inopportune times? Why attempt to fill the big scheme of things with something so selfishly and insignificantly small? The woman doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Fine. But what’s the harm of replying with a simple ‘thank you’ instead of an impassioned stance atop a portable soapbox? How can a simple seasonal salutation be regarded as offensive? What’s next, people? Saying ‘hi’ to someone to only have them pummel you as they scream how they only accept ‘hello’ as an appropriate greeting?

Pick your battles, plan your platforms, and stop sweating the small stuff. We’ve taken ourselves far too seriously. We keep our heads buried in our own backyard and cringe at the idea of the different perspective of another. Think before you speak, before you act and react. Your intent will go farther than you may realize.

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“Words may seem like feathers, virtually weightless as they blow along your way. But, when accumulated, the feathers can soar to the heavens… or they can blow apart and plummet. Where do your words and intent go? That, dear child, is up to you.”

– The One Who Soars with Eagles

Copyright © 2015, Charles A. Filius

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