“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
As I wade through the thick of the Holiday Season with one hand hovering over a tray of hors d’oeuvres and the other wrapped around the stem of an earthy Merlot, I am eyeing the same pink shrimp on ice and pastry-wrapped wieners as the next person, but I probably see them in a completely different way. For me, the sight of a miniature sausage encased in a pop-and-fresh biscuit makes my mouth water in anticipation of the greasy burst of salt and ensuing chewiness, while the shrimp signals to my teeth to brace for the cold that will cause momentary ache to their surface. I gaze at my wine and am warmed by the depth of color, yet cognizant of the fact that each sip I take is one step closer to a headache and interrupted sleep.
At this holiday gathering, it’s feasible that I’m standing near a friend who can’t tolerate Little Sizzlers. The mystery of what is sheathed in that little tube of gristle triggers teary eyes and a delicate gag reflex. And the Merlot, to better wine-drinkers than myself, might be a calming sedative or confidence-boosting instigator with no attention to its purple hue or headache-inducing quality.
The best we can do is keep the carrot of freedom dangling at the forefront and spend each day practicing kindness and acceptance of the individuals we encounter on any given day.
When we look at images of Santa, is our first thought, “That guy is fat, and needs a new suit”? Or do we smile inside at the memories he evokes, oblivious to his size or the fact that he couldn’t possibly step on a snow-covered roof in those boots.
The Abominable Snowman from the Rudolph story frightened me so much as a child, I had to look away. Abominable is synonymous with hateful and loathsome, and the creators of his character back in the 1960s did a fine job of creating his repugnant look. Yet one compassionate little elf saw past the Yeti’s imposing size and matted white fur. The Abominable Snowman had a toothache, and once his pain was relieved his gentle demeanor shined.
From my observation, I might dub 2018 as The Year of Diverse Vision, But Narrow Focus. We are a country of inclusion that takes pride in diversity and equality. It is the basis of our Constitution; liberty and justice for all. Race, religion, gender affiliation, sexual orientation, age and country of origin are all to be treated equal in this country. This is a broad and admirable vision that has evolved over decades and continues in its vicissitude from one generation to the next. But it will never be fully accomplished. We will not step back at some point in the future and say, “There you go! We are the United States of America. Perfectly balanced; entirely fair to every citizen, with compassion for, and understanding of everyone who resides within our borders.” Not gonna happen. The best we can do is keep the carrot of freedom dangling at the forefront and spend each day practicing kindness and acceptance of the individuals we encounter on any given day. If we are truly inclusive and want justice for all, then singling out those whose opinions are different from our own, must be put to rest.
I see salty sausage. You see mystery meat. I was terrified by the image of a vicious white giant with dirty hair and sharp incisors, but a fictional helper of Santa was able to recognize the frustration of intolerable pain.
The world is full of goodness. There is generosity and acceptance and gratitude to be found. Our country is a beautiful place to live. Humanity is alive and well. We can look at our world as something broken, standing behind the lines of our indelible beliefs, blaming the chasm on someone whose opinion we don’t share. Or we can measure what we see through the filter of acceptance and kindness. Because if we want inclusion, then we must first be inclusive of not just the people we find agreeable, but of everyone. We can disagree without being disrespectful. We can welcome the perspective of another. It’s a wonderful life, if we can only see it that way.
As this season of celebration comes to a close, and a New Year rises on the horizon, I wish you joyful experiences surrounded by the ones you love and peace in your heart one moment at a time.
Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.