It did not hit me until after I gave him: the man holding up a sign for money on the side of the road, five crinkled greens from my wallet and drove away.
1) I did not memorize the color of his eyes.
2) I did not ask him what one food he would marry if he had the choice.
We all have quirky rituals when it comes to meeting new faces. New friends. I memorize a person’s eye color, though I never tell them outright. I add them to a concordance of blues and hazels and greens within my mind. And I delight in breaking the ice with the question, “If you could marry one food what would it be and why?” Sounds pretty silly but trust me, this question of matrimony (and the sheer insanity of the thought) has the capacity to absolutely chisel away the ice. (In case you were wondering: I would marry blueberry pancakes because they are pretty clutch at any time of the day BUT they are a great comfort when the world gets me down. Let’s just pray I never have to compare my future husband to them).
But I had neglected to do either of the things with the homeless man. So I kicked myself all the way home while wondering if he had blue eyes or brown. If he would marry macaroni or maybe chocolate cake.
I was angry with the fact that I had treated the man any different than I would a new face in a crowd. For putting myself on a pedestal in front of him. For judging him by his Dirty Clothes, his Tattered Sign, the Circumstances Dealt to Him.
If I could erase one thing from this world it might be judgment. I think it is the root of a lot of other problems. And what I cannot understand is why we walk around all day, two conversations constantly going. The first conversation we have with one another. That is the one that actually plops off our tongues in the form of Words and Dialogue. The second conversation is the one we carry in our heads, you know, the one with the little voice that makes us feel entitled to judge another by their status, the decisions they make and the person they are. We judge strangers, friends, loved ones. More often than we probably care to or even notice.
These days my mind has a hard time wrapping itself around anything but the act that is judging. It is all that I think about. And I believe I have started to look at people a little differently because of this judgment that is suffocating me… Seriously. Last night I was walking through the grocery store and my eyes caught the sight of another and I prepared myself to make a judgment of them. And then I heard this little voice say, “Who do you think you are, Hannah? What makes you so cool that you can judge that person? What did they ever do to you?” I kid you not, this is happening to me everywhere these days.
So I have no other choice. It is either change the way I see the world or be doomed to enter an insane asylum for hearing the voice of judgment in my ear 24/7.
Here is the case: closed. We should have admiration for one another, because we all pretty admirable people. We each wake up and we walk outside and we try to make sense of this thing called life. And that is pretty brave. Some of us have it easier. But tomorrow it might be harder. Some of us are forced to figure out life on a street corner, or within a broken family or while fighting a disease. But if you ask me, we are all pretty courageous. But more than that, we are all pretty equal. And if we only stripped ourselves of our statuses, the zeros within our paychecks, the clothes we wear and the privileges we have, we would see that we are all pretty Similar. Pretty Tired. Pretty Wonderful. Pretty Cool. Pretty Daring for being human beings in this broken world.
And Gandhi got it, Mother Teresa understood it too, Jesus knew it and Che comprehended. Even the Dalai Lama is all over this like bees on honey. That if we are lacking peace in our lives it maybe because we are forgetting a simple fact: we are here to help one another, to stand on equal ground with one another- not forge a distance or set ourselves apart. Treat others as you would want to be treated? Oh yes, now I recall.
And honestly, we waste a lot of productivity and energy by judging people so often. We could use that energy better. To Love Better. To Care More. To Be Better Friends. Better Lovers. Better Human Beings. And we could be so much more productive. Instead of judging (an act that gets us absolutely nowhere) we could sing songs, or create murals or start the next Woodstock. It doesn’t really matter, I just think there are better things to do with our times then separate ourselves with a pair of scissors called “judgment.”
Want to work at it with me? I have learned quite a lot for just trying it out this week. I have learned that I admire the people who work in construction. That I adore the man who pushes carts at the grocery store. That I have a newfound respect for the worker at Dunkin Donuts and for the people on the treadmill next to me at the gym at 5a.m.
And I learned that no matter who I come across (NO MATTER WHO) I should treat them as I would my best friend. With kindness, loyalty, respect and compassion. And I should get better at memorizing their eye color and asking them what food they would marry and why.
And while I am on this, what food would you marry? And what color are your eyes?