The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes
ON THE CARPET
Laura writes: My newly-four-year-old son knocks over a glass of grape juice on the off-white carpet. It is the permanent kind of deep purple juice, the type that will tell mothers and fathers a hundred years from now that once small children lived here. Thank you, I say, sighing, meaning everything but thank you. I sink to the floor to begin repairing the damage. Looking up I see Timothy touching his forehead as if he is removing a top hat; with a melodramatic, sweeping gesture, he bows nearly to the floor as he says, “It is my greatest pleasure.” It is my moment of choice, is it not? Later, I relive that moment: the frustration, the anger, the exhaustion of one more spill, one more chore, one more damn thing to do…but what stays with me all these months later is his voice accept ing my thanks, his Sir Laurence Olivier performance, and my sudden break with irritation as I went gratefully sliding into laughter. We spent five minutes dissolved in giggles in each other s arms on the floor…and the grape juice? It waited. It can always wait; a four-year-old is four for only so long. And now, whenever I pass the fading purple stain, what I see is not the color of frustration or exhaustion; what I see is a moment when my young son and I lay on the floor together laughing, touching, sharing a moment of when my young son and I lay on the floor together laughing, touching, sharing a moment of closeness. So much of life is like that: choices between anger and letting go of anger, holding tight to resentment like it will warm you or allowing yourself to be stripped bare until you can see the humanity and the humor in yourself and others.
A CONSCIOUS LIVING PRACTICE FOR TODAY – MAY 25
Today you will reframe something that happens. When you reframe, you choose to view something through a new or different lens (it is the old “half empty or half full” concept at work). The event itself hasn’t changed; your interpretation is what changes. In the grape juice example, Laura chose to reframe; instead of seeing it as an opportunity for anger, she reframed it into an opportunity for closeness.
The event: _____
The old interpretation: _____
The new interpretation: _____
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