Thoughts through a fever

I find it interesting the things I think about during “down time” due to waiting for the symptoms of a cold to pass and trying to stay positive and not feel sorry for myself. This past week was one of those times and one of the memories that came to me was of a time, during my career as a professional speaker where I was the closing speaker at an association convention in California.  Since I arrived early to get a feel for the meeting and the people, I was able to sit in the audience and listen to the woman who gave the opening presentation.  

When she was introduced, she entered the stage from the side and was obviously having some difficulty walking and when she reached center stage she held onto the lectern for support for a moment.  She then stepped to the side of the lectern and delivered a wonderfully inspirational message but before she spoke, as she was walking across the stage, I overheard the lady sitting next to me say to her companion, “Isn’t that terrible. She’s drunk.  She should be ashamed to be seen like that - and we’re (the association) probably paying big bucks to be lectured to be a lush.”

As the speaker told her story it became clear why she experienced difficulty walking on stage.  She has muscular dystrophy.  She doesn’t like to be wheeled onto the stage or use crutches because she talks about her condition in her speeches.  When the truth became known, I wondered how the lady felt who had jumped to the conclusion that because of the way the speaker walked she must be drunk.

From time to time we all judge others, sometimes before we know all the facts,. It’s not easy to be non-judgmental. I’ve always had a hard time with it and I’m still working on it it; but I am working on it - and you can too.  I might not like how you look, how you act, what you do, what you say, what you talk about, but I’ve got to say to myself, “If everything that has happened to you had happened to me I’d probably be very much like you are.”  There’s always going to be some people who don’t like you and there’s always going to be some who turn you off; but before you catalogue them, pigeonhole them, shoot them down in flames, blow them out of the water, let’s walk a mile in their shoes. You have no idea the burden the person next to you in traffic, across from you in an office, in front of you at the grocery store check out counter my be carrying in his or her heart and mind.

You know, it frightens me, and saddens me, to realize how many people in this country of ours successfully commit suicide. That bothers me - that I’m a part of a culture where we have so much and yet suddenly the worthwhileness of life goes out for anybody. And I wonder how much of that is my fault. I recall the true story of a young man in Ohio who was going to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge and he left a note saying this is what he intended to do - but, he said that “if the process of getting to the bridge I find one person who smiles at me or one person who gives me some kind of encouragement, I’m not going to go through with it.” But he did go through with it. And I wonder what would have happened if I’d have met that young man that morning. What would have happened if you had met him? 

I closed many of my speeches by saying, “It’s nice to be important, but it’m more important to be nice.”

t the la     © Dick Caldwell 2012