Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart


motes and logs: or, what we don’t see…

mote in eyeOn the plane coming home from a weekend writer’s conference, I sat next to a very nice woman from Austin. She was unbelievably lovely, soft-spoken with a sweet Southern drawl. We talked, as passengers in tiny seats sharing breathing space do, about one thing & another. And I didn’t even realise that I had made certain assumptions — prejudiced assumptions — until Janet-from-Austin blew ‘em up.

Digression: Dolly Parton was once asked, as she first began her library project, when she thought people would stop thinking speakers with Southern accents were stupid. Her reply doesn’t fit w/ my epiphany, but the question sure does. :) Because I had assumed that this lovely woman — too pretty, too Southern, a monied stay-at-home mother (probably a Southern debutante) — wasn’t unusually bright.

At which point Janet mentioned she has a law degree and a master’s. In education curriculum & design. And I am frantically going back over what I’ve said — hoping I wasn’t a jerk, or even ‘just’patronising. Please note: it’s not that degrees (or even education) define being ‘smart.’ But I had made the totally bogus assumption that Janet wouldn’t even care about advanced degrees. And law school and master’s degrees ARE hard. I also wouldn’t have thought she’d stick even one, much less both.

At that point, our conversation deepened, obviously. And I’m left to consider, later, prejudice & stereotyping. How insidious it is. How difficult to see in ourselves. I wonder, over the next several hours, if the people who turn on Obama for things Bush also did see any double standard. And which of Janet’s ‘markers’ shut the door to my heart, initially. southern debutante

Was it because she had a Southern accent? I have several close friends — and family! — w/ Southern accents. I know they’re smart.

Was it her soft, tiny, voice? Maybe — that’s been a problem for me (big-booming-voice me) for a long time. But it’s a lesson I thought I’d learned long ago.

How about her loveliness? Many of my friends — brilliant women — are drop-dead beautiful. Again, I know better. I don’t think it was any single one of these, really.

As for staying at home w/ her kids? I did that for years, and was grateful to have the luxury.

I can only assume it was gestalt: the Southern deb image. A stereotype? Sure. And one — ironically — that Janet really didn’t fit, once I visited w/ her. Yes, she has money. No, she doesn’t work outside the home. Instead, she’s considering returning to school for her doctorate. Because she’d like to teach. Something I relate to on every level. :)

So here’s what my beginner heart learned:

Next time you meet someone, consider this: are you — as Pema Chodron says — proceeding without intention? Listening w/out a filter? I would have said yes. But I wasn’t (obviously). And I suspect this is not the first time. Next time I meet a stranger, I will take a deep breath, and listen openly. Proceed without intention. For Janet’s sake. She deserves that consideration. Better late, right?

 



Previous Posts

contrasts and contradictions (or not...)
See the snow outside? It's inches -- nothing for Boston (they should be so lucky!), but a big deal for Oklahoma. And more to come, the weather folks predict.  A cardinal is on one feeder, a vivid splash of colou

posted 11:42:43am Feb. 28, 2015 | read full post »

a long long time ago, or, updating our moral software
  This used to be the way America looked at women voting. And to be honest, some of these jokes are still around. But for the vast majority of Americans, we accept that women have the right to vote. Even though it's not in the original Constitution. That's an important 'even though,' sin

posted 10:52:31pm Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »

the vulnerability of grace
This is a post about sharing. About a man who has inspired me for a long time, and his impending loss. It's about intelligence, wit, and vulnerability. And the irreplaceable magic of those braided qualities

posted 4:25:29pm Feb. 23, 2015 | read full post »

lists, writing, and cleaning the mind's house
  Ever since I was a little girl, I've visualised my mind as an old house. And lately it seems more like a house that needs a LOT of TLC -- re: it's  kind of a mess. So when the facilitator at the

posted 3:50:10pm Feb. 21, 2015 | read full post »

oh RATS, or, rescue and repatriation and compassion
This is Rattus norvegicus, the common brown rat. It's the same rat many lab rats are bred from, and it's SMART. Also, not so nice to have as a wild resident. As in: living in your laundry room. Even if the laundry room is only an occasional outing (inning?) from the garage, where it's set up house.

posted 6:43:38pm Feb. 19, 2015 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.