“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Ourselves As Others See Us

Last night we were watching the very funny and talented comedian, Michael McIntyre on TV. He was performing to an audience in Wembley, and spent the whole time pacing up and down, up and down - apparently it is his trademark style. And I found it so distracting - I found it was much easier to appreciate the jokes if I didn't look at the TV. My daughter does the same thing sometimes - prowls around the room when she's talking to me. And it drives me nuts! I think it's because I was taught that it is polite to focus on a person's face when they are talking to you, and the prowling / pacing makes this very difficult, and hence uneasy for me.

And then of course I realised that I too probably have mannerisms which annoy / distract other people, which I'm not aware of because I can't see myself. There is a lovely quote in C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters which illustrates this perfectly:

"When two humans have lived together for many years, it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness of your patient that particular lift of his mother's eyebrows which he learned to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how much he dislikes it. Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy - if you know your job he will not notice the immense improbability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this is easily managed."

It is so easy to make judgements about people for superficial reasons like this. And so very wrong. I need to remember, to constantly have in mind, that "each one of us is unique, precious, a child of God" and should not be judged, but seen whole, and loved just the way they are. This is the heart of compassion.

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