In too many areas of life we try to put people into categories in order to understand them. Democrats and Republicans, Cubs Fans or White Sox Fans, Nature Lovers or City Dwellers. The challenge with these one or the other categorizations is that they limit people to either or. It is assumed that people cannot be both, or at least relate to both. Which if you know many people is not really true. Most people can see both sides, depending upon the category, and can understand at least the other person’s point of view.
In our house we love both dogs and cats. My husband and I both grew up with pets, we currently have cats and hope to get puppies later this year. Most people think dogs and cats will not get along. I have seen them behave as frolicking friends, cuddle buddies and even protect each other when necessary. It all depends upon how they were raised. It doesn’t have to be an either or, it can be both.
We all grow up with preferences and beliefs. We learn them from our parents, teachers, coaches, troop leaders and may not remember as adults where we learned what we currently believe. We have thought this way for so long that we can’t remember not thinking this way. Our thought process has become our way of life. I also know that everyone has the capacity to change the way they think, if they want to change. It’s not that we can’t, it usually boils down to the fact that we won’t. Our way is right and the other way is wrong. We are comfortable with our world, it provides a way to categorize the rest of the world. And if people choose to be in the other category, it only confirms our beliefs about them.
If you have ever been put in a category by someone, either because they assumed or thought they knew you, you remember how limiting it felt. Your ideas, preferences, choices and identity were boiled down to fit into a categorical box. None of us can be defined by simply one word, one category, or one thought process. People are too dynamic to be defined by a single category. Be careful, if you put people in boxes they will eventually resist and exercise their right to be themselves. So whether you like cats or dogs or both, or maybe even neither…feel free to think and believe as you choose. Who is to say which way is right?
Stuck in rush hour traffic, I noticed the dog in the car window having the time of his life. He watched all the cars and bounced his perky little head all over the backseat of the car. He seemed to be fascinated by the movement, or lack there of, of the cars and lights. When I pulled up beside the car I rolled down my window and said hello. His ears perked up and he just focused on me, then looked at all the cars, then looked at me very intensely. I could see exactly waht he was thinking, “You people are crazy!” I had to agree with him.
We spend time sitting in our cars at a dead stop waiting for other cars to move, so we can move. We do this twice a day, five days a week. Then we complain about it all and do nothing different. In fact, we do it all over again week after week after week. Hours, weeks, months, years of our lives spent in traffic. We do this to get to and from work, when traffic alone is work enough. It is crazy, more then humans or canine can understand.
It’s crazy because we waste time. Crazy because we do it over and over and over. Crazy because there is a better way to work, yet we continue along the same path week after week. Crazy because we know better yet do not act. Knowing is one thing, doing is another.
As the dog passed me again, I thought about how he had the right idea. Open a window, let the wind filter through your hair, then simply enjoy the ride. No need to get stressed about any of it, eventually you will get there. Getting crazy about it is actually the crazy part…enjoy the ride. Be thankful that you have somewhere to go, something to do, and a vehicle to get you there.
You know that saying, the grass is always greener on the other side. It means when we look at other people’s lives we think it looks better than our own. We see the beautiful grass in their yard and think their entire yard looks that great. We extrapolate all the good we see to their entire existence. When we look at anything about someone else’s world, and compare it to our own life this saying implies that we will be left wanting.
When we compare our world to anyone else’s, we are comparing our reality to our perception of their reality. We usually compare our worst or average to their best, or what we interpret as their best. When you use that comparison method, of course the grass is always greener. Of course your world falls short by comparison. How can you feel anything but envy when you do not know the details?
Have you ever thought that someone is looking at your world with that same sense of envy? They see the life you lead and only see the best parts, with no view into the dark, dusty, cobweb filled corners. They see the amazing parts with no hint that your entire world could be anything but rosey. They are comparing their reality to the bits and pieces they see of your fabulous existence. Your life is the green field they want and feel powerless to obtain. Their snapshot view does not give them access to the hours, days, years of hard work and sweat you have endured to get things done. No one can ever know what oyu did to get where you are, no one. Only you know the price you have paid to create your life.
So when the grass looks greener in someone else’s world, know that you are only seeing a snippet into the real picture. The grass may be green, but that doesn’t mean it is better than what you have, it only appears that way. As we all get older we learn and know that appearances are deceiving. Be happy with the green in your own world and stop comparing yourself to anyone else.