Challenge your preconceptions and assumptions
I had a manicure a week ago. I’m not an overly girly girl, but I do love having my nails done and coming home with a shiny new colour. So this time should have been just like any other, right?
“What colour would you like today? We have some gorgeous fruity pinks that I think would look lovely on you! They’re just over there”.
No thanks, I’ll have black today”. .................................. silence ................................ “oh…. sure.”
“Actually, no, I’ve changed my mind. Sorry ‘bout that. I’m going to go with that lovely metallic dark green instead!”... tumbleweeds ... crickets ...
“OK”.Skip forward to this weekend. We had a lovely lunch at a winery, which was followed by Robert and I wandering into the cellar to find a bottle to have with dinner. We were looking for a white wine. “Perhaps madame would be interested in our budget range? The wildflower Chardonnay”. What the?? Presuming much, you pretentious git? OK, I’ll play his game. “Sure, I’d love to taste that!”. Hmph! That tastes like it may have come from the chamberpot that lived under my grandmothers’ bed. Would this chap like to consider that I might be interested in purchasing the wines that this winery is famous for? The ones that they have won many awards for?
Let’s try him again. No, it seems he’d still like to offer me the budget range. Seriously? At our third tasting he realised that I was serious about my wine and wanted some quality. At this point he offered me the Pinot Gris which was wonderful and is going to be a delight with our zombie movie fest with dinner. (yes, I know – odd combo, but so much fun!)
Next, we headed to the shops to stock up on cheese platter-ish things to have with our newly purchased wine, and took a moment to stop off at the news agent on the way for some magazine browsing.
Now, I have to say, that as this was a winery day, I wasn’t dressed in the way that I usually am. I’m totally a jeans & tee kind of person. If I can’t wear my jeans and a Redbubble tee, chances are I’ll most likely consider a place not worth the effort. You know what I mean?
On occasion though, I do wear what I call my “Mum” clothes – my “responsible clothes”. So, for whatever reason, on this particular day I was in my “mum” clothes, which was a rather crisp white linen shirt, but still, as always, my trusty jeans.
So anyway, there I was at the news agent, with my head buried in tattoo magazines. I was having a great ol’ time looking at all of the tattoo mags. We’re lucky to have a really good range at our store and I’m a pretty regular browser of that section. I was looking for a particular magazine so was being pretty intense in my search of all of the editions.
I’m not sure how long the man had been standing beside me, but I became aware of the very strange looks he was giving me. At first I wasn’t sure why. I was just browsing the magazines like him, right? Then it dawned on me that I looked nothing like him, and it most likely perplexed him no end. There he was, in his 20’s, heavily tattooed, piercings in every conceivable place and a closely shaved head. Me, crisp linen shirt, 40 something, and looking at pictures of half naked tattooed women. It made me chuckle just a tad.
I’m sure you’re probably wondering what on earth I’ve been banging on about. The thing is, it just really bugs me that people are always so quick to make assumptions about others. So quick to look at someone’s outward appearance and presume something that is usually incorrect and unfounded. I’m not preaching here – I’m guilty of it too.
It’s true, we can’t get to know every person that we encounter in the general, every day passing of our lives. What we can do though, is open our minds to the idea that every person we encounter is someone special. The person that you might think is plain, unremarkable and unimportant might have lived some of the most amazing experiences you could imagine.
Our multicultural, global community means we’re seeing more and experiencing more than most would think possible. Our life experiences are vast, joyful and tragic. We each have our own tastes and particular predilections. Our religious beliefs encompass a pantheon of gods of all types, all of them worthy of respect. Our bedroom antics take us from the solitary and often lonesome, to group parties, or more intimate latex clad hanging-from-a-custom-made-swing encounters. Fashion-wise our tastes are so vastly varied I can’t even begin to describe all the styles we come across. (though, yes, I believe there are people who make a living from doing this very thing). Some of us choose to express ourselves by changing our hair, which often results in vibrant, gravity defying styles that make all other heads turn in awe, envy, curiosity or sadly, derision. Our fashion and hair sense are just two of the wonderful ways we can express the person that we are, and the degree of comfort that we feel in our skin.
In my past I’ve had the great honour of getting to know an incredible array of characters. A Holocaust survivor, someone who has witnessed the horrors of the Rwanda massacres, and a WWII RAAF bomber pilot who guided his damaged aircraft home across the English Channel with a broken compass, returning both he and his crew safe and sound. I’ve known a man who survived a helicopter crash, and credits his survival to the selfless generosity of the blood donors of the Australian community. Without their gift he would, without doubt have not made it. I’ve met a pilot who flew military helicopters without any legs. He’s a double amputee, and made me feel like I was truly able to do whatever I wanted to do in life. I’ve met firemen who, thanks to their self-sacrificing commitment to their job, I owe my life. A school teacher who sang vocals for an awesome Black Sabbath tribute band, a Virologist with a deep love of Italian Renaissance art and Tuscan food, and a Haematologist who rode his motorbike across the Sahara Desert. Why did he do this? Because “it’s the Sahara, & I love to ride my bike!”. I’ve also met trolley boys at my supermarket who have gone out of their way to help me to my car with my groceries, because they could see I was flustered. I’ve had barista’s offer to add an extra shot to my latte because I looked tired, and I’ve had a total stranger approach me in the rain and tell me he would share his umbrella with me because “if we must be in the rain, we might as well be in it together!”.
Through all of this I’ve made friends who I’ve loved and mourned as I’ve farewelled them to the afterlife.
So perhaps, the next time an assumption about a person pops into your head, you might take an extra moment to reconsider. Maybe this lady wants something other than fruity pink fingernails. Perhaps there’s a possibility that the mumsy woman in the white linen has been tattooed no less than 6 times and will almost certainly be done so again…..
Every person has their own glorious uniqueness that should be embraced and celebrated, if in no other way than opening your mind to possibilities and greeting them with a smile.