December 10, 2008

Perspective Check

For various reasons I fully expected our trip to Arkansas to be a bit difficult. Yet it seems that no matter how I try to prepare and anticipate for challenging situations, then adjust my expectations and plans accordingly, it doesn't make anything easier.

Our trip started with a bit of a rough drive, making me one tired and cranky person. When we arrived in the middle of the night I was in no way prepared to socialize. I wanted to go straight to bed, but his grandparents were eagerly awaiting our arrival and were excited to talk.

Waking up the next morning and starting our week I was quickly annoyed and put off by many things. I was way out of my comfort zone and not feeling well. To add to the stress, Tony's grandparents have a different way of living and thinking than we do. They are sweet and kind people, but sharing living space with people that have a different lifestyle than you do is difficult.

Last night we were all sitting around talking and I was doing my best to participate in the conversation without judging or getting annoyed. And something changed. Paul and Ada were sharing their stories, talking about their lives.

Finally they were not talking about their political or religious views, discussing other people and their shortcomings, or complaining about health problems. They were talking to us, not at us. And I was finally in a state of mind and had the energy to engage in conversation, asking questions and wanting to take full advantage of learning about what has made them who they are.

For the first time, I saw them as people. People with hurts and pains, hopes and fears, and lives full of story just like the rest of us. That quickly changed my sour attitude.

I am sure there will still be moments of struggle, but I hope I can remember how I felt last night. I hope I can keep a healthy perspective and give them the respect they deserve. And maybe, just maybe, I might have a little fun along the way.


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