At times I amaze myself.
It would be nice to think it happens because I, Bill Cady, am an amazing man, but even I have to concede that’s a big reach. Maybe it’s more accurate to say commonplace matters are so new to me they become amazing. Or, something in between.
For the sake of my own pride, I’ll go with Option 3, “something in between”.
Whenever I receive a compliment, in addition to being grateful, it’s my tendency to evaluate myself to see if what I heard was in any way deserved. If not, I’m now mature enough to quietly comment to the one giving me praise to correct the misimpression. If accurate, on top of enjoying it, I look to see if I can make myself even better in that regard. Keeping in mind all of us want to be the best person we can be, in the eyes of others and ourselves, that’s simply the easy way to do something. If you have a talent as a gymnast and someone remarks on it, you’ll have far less trouble being an even better gymnast than improving yourself as a track star or football player.
A friend commented the other day in an e-mail she appreciated my endurance and durability now I’m undergoing chemotherapy. She also remarked with some gratitude about how much she was thankful for my patience. I’ve been teaching her some of what I deem “simple things” on a computer. I keep forgetting so many matters regarding e-mail and MS Word I find so normal and everyday are virtually all new to many people.
It almost made me chuckle when I read those kind words. Many who knew me years ago would swear the person saying it was greatly mistaken to use my name in the same sentence with the word “patient”. Back then I had almost no patience for anyone and, too often, I made my irritation clear in too many ways.
For those improvements I can thank my ordeal of living homeless from 2005-2009, a vagrant in a ’93 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am with a host of problems and a bad attitude. Because it’s my nature to rebel against any oppression, I fought tooth and nail the first couple years. It was more than fair to say I was a surly bastard, unpleasant to anyone I felt was against me. Yet, when a man is homeless, the “against me side” includes most of the known world.
It was only when I pared back my hostility, learned to care for others and offer them respect in the same way I wanted it, those benefits began coming back my way. Sort of an “echo effect”, if you will. When I put out aggression, I got aggression in return. In addition to the standard hostility the average person displays to anyone homeless, I was also besieged with what many thought a justifiable attitude. The standard reaction was yet more animosity being directed my way because I “lived down to” what they expected of a homeless guy.
It was only when I learned I’d need to be smarter than all those people, a tactic that required I also be much nicer than they were, where I began to make advances. Afterward, over a “mere two plus years”, I made gains to the point I was “paroled” from being homeless. Later, by continuing what I’d learned and being unbelievably persistent, I “finished my sentence” and once more became a “human being”. Now I’m treated that way, i.e., the same as everyone else.
As that’s all I wanted in the first place, it’s rather apparent the delay was caused solely by my obnoxious attitude at the time. It’s so nice to receive dividends now on lessons I learned in such a gruesome manner. My hope is to pass these learning steps to you via this blog so you don’t end up paying the costly tuition I forked over to learn them.
Each time you don’t make one of my prior mistakes, it cuts my cost of making them in half.
I’m just sayin’.
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