I HAVE CAUGHT MYSELF more times than I’d like to admit, over the past couple of months making snap judgments and then offensive declarations (to myself) about my good neighbors and co-members of humanity. It is a character flaw for sure, and I’m making great strides in my effort to remedy this dark spot on my day and way. What is it about me that wants to evaluate the receptionist’s nose ring? What has it to do with me? Men who wear their long hair in a high ponytail; why does it bother me? I imagine at one time, I would have loved having a nose ring and a high pony. So why does it make an instant and negative impression upon me? Part of it has to do with my evolving personal philosophy against affectations. I don’t wear jewelry or have a pencil mustache. There is something about these decorations that do not feel sincere to me. For instance, I grew the hair on my bottom lip out and considered putting a bead in it. (I saw Brad Pitt do it.) A bead in chin hair is totally an affectation, and the effect is that I am totally embarrassed at having considered it. I’m moving off point a bit, but I am too quick to judge an affectation. My aversion to affectation is totally a personal decision as valid as someone choosing to wear a pinky ring and multiple bracelets. And that’s the point of this brief blog.
affectation: an unnatural form of behavior that is meant to impress others
I was in a yoga class the other day. The room had just hosted a butt-blasting class, the windows were sweating condensation, and it stank to high heaven. An older student asked the teacher to turn on the ceiling fans for the room to air out. The teacher asked the room for objections, and no one had any. Then a young man, in all his hipster bliss; sleeve tattoo, matted hair piled in a bun, came into the classroom and told the teacher to turn off the fans. He was cold. I know it’s February in Miami Beach, 74 degrees, and people are wearing down coats, but my first thought was “what an a**hole.” Mind you, I totally accessed this guy in less than ten seconds, purely by the way he looked, how he entered the room, and what he said. But what occurred to me, only moments after I thought that mean declaration, in a classroom dedicated to bliss, was that why do I care. I mean, seriously, why would I care? He is young and beautiful. Even though he has made a conscious effort to look dirty, has multiple piercings, inked half his body and effortlessly swirled his dreads in a pile on his head, he still looks good. And me, I’m “wintering” in Miami Beach in a very swanky gym attending a yoga class in the middle of the day. If this guy needs the fans off, how does that affect me? My life is incredibly good. What I considered, immediately after thinking such a curse, was that his life may not be so good. I mean, where can you work looking like that? The hipster hair, tattoos, clothes, and attitude may only be an affectation masking a challenge that “fans on” or “fans off” would or could effect a better life. Thinking such negative thoughts about my classmate makes me the A**hole.
The teacher turned to me and asked if I was okay with turning the fans off. I shrugged and said, “life is good.” Sincerely, if turning the fans off in that sweaty, stinky room made his life better, then, suddenly I’m all for it. If that girl likes her nose ring and dirty hair, great. If that guy with the earlobe stretchers and the man-bun wants to wear a big scarf inside, more power to him. What could this have to do with me enjoying my blessed journey? Taking the time to judge others only takes time away from celebrating my life. My personal philosophy directs me away from affectations, but I should not judge other people’s conscious efforts to pretense or feign the person they want to be. You be you and I’ll be me. I celebrate your attempt at self-actualization. All said and done, though, I do know that guy could very well have been an A**hole. JOE