It seems to me, that much of the discord in our world stems from simple misunderstandings. Even when our intentions are good, we can “rub someone the wrong way” or “hurt someone’s feelings.”
I woke up Friday. Not quite sure what to write, so I got still and quiet, and asked the Divine Source of my creativity, “What should I write about today?” I remained still for some time, but didn’t get a clear answer, so I went about my day as usual. The answer came to me by midday when I had experienced three misunderstandings, all of which began with good intentions.
The first misunderstanding occurred at a sandwich shop. I placed my lunch order, and went to a table, as directed, to wait for its delivery.
While waiting, I decided to try out a new app, Audio Boo, on my iPhone. If you don’t already have it, and you’re into audio recording it’s a lot of fun for recording on the go, and posting your recordings online to share.
The problem occurred when I hit the play button on my phone, not realizing the volume on my ear buds was turned up to maximum, blasting my ears with an Englishman’s voice describing the recent volcanic ash problem for European travelers. As you can imagine this was a shock to my system, and I found myself fumbling for the volume button, rather than simply pulling the headphones out of my ears.
At that same moment the young girl who had taken my sandwich order called my name on the loudspeaker to come clarify part of the order. As I reached the counter, I was still searching for the volume button, and looked at her with an expression of being perplexed. She asked, “What kind of bread?”
“Pumpernickel. Thanks.” I said with a furrowed brow, not at all directed at her, but rather the pain from the volume, and my moment of confusion at my failed attempts to lower it on my phone.
I could see by her expression that she thought I was scowling at her, so I pulled the ear bud out of my ear, smiled at her and said, “my apologies for the expression on my face, I was experiencing some technical difficulty with my phone. It had nothing to do with you, thank you for clearing up the order.”
She smiled a bit, but I could see she was questioning whether or not my grimace was meant for her. And that was misunderstanding #1.
I must not have been very conscious that morning, because as I left the sandwich shop, while making a left turn, I realized there was another car in the parking lot intending to turn before me. When I realized I had cut this man off in traffic, I raised my right hand with an open palm toward him, a sign of Love, and mouthed the words, “I’m so sorry.”
I think the driver of the other car thought I was making an altogether different gesture and mouthing an altogether different phrase because the look on his face would suggest he thought I said something more like, “you moron.”
Oh no! Misunderstood again. In both instances my mind was somewhere other than the present moment, and the people with whom I interacted felt the repercussions. Although my intentions were good, I was misunderstood, possibly as being rude or disrespectful.
As if I hadn’t already gotten the message from my Divine Source saying, “Write about how easy it is to misunderstand others, and to be misunderstood by others, and how important it is to hold each other with Grace along the path,” I experienced yet a third misunderstanding all in the same three hour block of time. I’ve learned to pay attention when I experience something in threes.
The final misunderstanding came from a dear friend, with whom I haven’t spoken in a very long time. She sent me an email from the perspective of apology and investigation of a possible rift in our relationship. This came from the fact that we have been out of touch for several months since my relocation to the Pacific North West.
Staying in touch with long distance friends and family has proven to be one of my biggest challenges thus far. I tend to be so immersed in the world around me, that I don’t always take time to connect with those I care about who are far away, even though I carry them in my heart and often in my thoughts. Since I feel the connection just as if they were with me, I suppose on some level, I think they feel it too.
How wrong could I have been? This dear friend felt there was something discordant in our relationship, which was the reason I had not to been in touch. She wasn’t getting the validation she needed as a friend, even though I care deeply about her, and had created a story that I might be angry with her for some reason, or that she had done something “wrong.”
With misunderstanding number three of the day, it became clear to me how important it is to be reminded that our perception is often not reality. The lens through which we view the world comes from our perspective alone, and colors everything we see. Of course we will experience many misunderstandings in life, because we are also vastly different, and interpret the world through individualized perceptions, which can only see what our individual experience allows us to see.
One of the most freeing quotes I’ve seen to date is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
What matters most is that we understand ourselves, and come to a place of peace with who we are and how we show up in the world. If we are acting out of Love, with a sincere heart, holding the highest good for all people, then we can walk through life with a sense of peace, even in moments when we feel we are misunderstood.
One of the most misunderstood people of all time, I believe, was Jesus. His teachings have been distorted and warped throughout the years, leading to wars, prejudices, and divisive thinking. When one takes the time to really look at his teachings, we see how far from his teachings many devoted, self-proclaimed Christians have actually strayed.
His teachings come from a high level of consciousness, and are being interpreted, many times by those without the capacity to fully understand his teachings. A mind can only receive what it has expanded fully enough to receive.
I understand how easy it would be for the preceding paragraph to be misunderstood and judged, and I accept that someone reading these words might walk away with a different interpretation than what I, the writer, intended.
The questions I pose today for myself and you is, “How do I react when I feel misunderstood? Do I ever blame others for misunderstanding my point of view? Is it possible that I might be misunderstanding someone in my life right now? What if someone I have assumed is against me, is actually for me? How would that change the way I interact with that person?
These questions are merely thought starters to promote healing in our relationships with both ourselves and others. I invite us all to re-examine the way we relate to people in our personal and professional lives with an open heart, and a new perspective, allowing ourselves to be at peace, even when we misunderstand someone, or see that our own good intentions are misunderstood.
Be Good to YOU.