along for the ride, together

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Maybe the best thing would be
to forget being right or wrong about people
and just go along for the ride.
But if you can do that—
well, lucky you.
— Philip Roth

This would definitely be the best route for me – to forget being right or wrong about people. I am so confused when it comes to people. They baffle me. My confusion contributes to my shyness, I think. And I don’t trust myself anymore, or at least not for as long. I’ve been wrong far too many times to really think I can figure anyone out. I am sincerely in the dark about myself, why would I think I could understand any one else?

Just go along for the ride. Sounds delightful. How to forget about being right or wrong about them? That’s the trick. I think our brains are wired to figure things out, people most of all. How to rewire? I’ve spent untold hours trying to figure out this person or that. What makes them tick? Why do they do the things they do? How should I then interact with them?

Maybe this is one of those things that calls for a circuitous approach. Using the words, “right or wrong” might be helpful as a reminder of how often I have been wrong about people, (as well as situations, ideas, perspectives, philosophies, beliefs, most everything as I think it over).

Or maybe that is the wrong approach. Maybe, being so often wrong, I should begin the habit of approaching people without thinking I already have them figured out. Meet them new every time. With strangers it’s easier; that’s been morphing without effort. Becoming more naturally compassionate has had a pleasant side effect. I’m much slower than I was to think I have a stranger figured out. I don’t as quickly pigeon-hole them. When they seem unpleasant or awful, I find it easier to relate to them. I remember times I was cranky or imagine what might have caused them to be acting or reacting in an unsuccessful way.

But with those I know? Much harder. Much easier to automatically extrapolate. To anticipate, to assume understanding based on what has been learned in association. But I’ve been so often wrong here, too. And I find that I am weary of misunderstanding. Being misunderstood pains me very deeply. Why should I not then have the thoughtfulness to attempt not to misunderstand another with which I have to do?

Then there is there the matter of change to consider. I’m not who I was a few decades ago, not at all. Or even a few years. Or months. I’m not the same person I was when I began this thought process. Or this sentence. We all change, in ways subtle or abrupt, for all the years we live. Everyone. To avoid misunderstanding someone, I must see them with new eyes. I must have a “don’t know” mind. I need to be alert, on the lookout for who this person is, right now. This calls for attention and friendly affection and a still mind.

So, what it boils down to is that I need to continue the practices that quiet my mind. With a calm mind comes clarity and clear vision. And with these practices it becomes more habit to be in this moment. And if I am inhabiting this moment, I have opportunity to know you. The you that you are in this moment, fresh like a flower, brief as a breath.

I have a friend who reads people’s auras. He sees all sorts of colors like green and red and purple. He says anyone can do it. All it takes is forgetting everything you think you know and just looking. I’ve tried it and even though I haven’t seen any colors yet, everyone I meet looks so beautiful when I stop knowing everything, that it’s pretty hard to go back to the old way. ~ Story People

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