“Well, you may be well-educated, but your manners are shocking! You’re so unpleasant!” my downstairs neighbour screamed, as she walked past me on the stairs of our apartment building.
As she stormed off toward the street, she carried on ranting out loud to be sure that I, and the whole world, was aware of her anger.
I had greeted her, but she hadn’t heard me. I was tired and too in my head for the words to come out the way she would have liked them to.
I would like to say her words didn’t affect me, but they did.
“Eff off, you old hag!” I thought to myself, outraged. “Who do you think you are? I don’t know you from Adam, and you don’t frickin’ know me!”
As I put key to lock, I couldn’t believe I had gotten myself into this unexpected kerfuffle with the woman from, ironically, 3D.
As I busied, or unbusied, myself with a spot of evening yoga, I managed to calm down and forget about it all, for a while. But, the following day, what was still a fresh memory, managed to haunt me enough to make me talk to myself out loud on my way to work.
In my head, I was playing the perfect comeback. If she even looked at me sideways, she would get whipped with a, “You don’t know me, lady. You don’t know if I’m going through a terrible time in my life, if I’m ill, if I’d lost my voice, if I’d had a terrible day at work, or was really down on myself for any other reason. You don’t know, but I did greet you, only you didn’t frickin’ hear me, did ya? Now, if you want to carry on judging me, be my guest…”
Would the above words have satisfied my ever-so-hungry ego? Maybe—possibly temporarily. They certainly sounded smashing in rehearsal.
Thankfully, they were never released.
A couple of days after the unfortunate incident, whilst reading Dr. Barbara de Angelis’s new book, something happened—a strike of divine inspiration—straight from the soul.
I realized this woman’s anger was not meant to make me angry. This woman’s anger was meant to make me grow—it was a spiritual teaching.
She was right. It was possible that I came across as unpleasant to strangers, even sour at times.
I admit I am not the most extroverted, happy-go-lucky person out there. Although I always try to be polite, compassionate, and helpful to one and all, I have, on more than one occasion, received a “Cheerio!” by a complete stranger on the street.
It’s incredible how much a gratuitous comment like this can annoy you, no matter how positively it’s meant.
However, the repetitive nature of such a remark has led me to believe that maybe, just maybe, I come across a bit too serious to others, even though I am not a serious person.
So basically, when I feel grand or even pretty good—outwardly, I look serious to other people.
If I want my face to match my emotions, I must smile more. You know, stretch the sides of the mouth outward and upward a wee bit more, maybe even show some teeth…
But why bother at all?
Because this world is already divided enough, and I for one, would like us to be more united.
And “unity” begins with “U,” or in this case, me.
There’s a good chance my octogenarian neighbor will never read this. But still, I would like to take this chance to say a heartfelt “thank you.”
I am open to finding what there is for me to see, to feel, to learn, to grow to be the best person I can be.
Thanks to you I saw, I learned, I grew.
Today, when I ran into you on the third floor, I greeted you with a friendly “hi there!” You ignored me, but I felt happy.
I felt at peace. And, believe it or not—I felt more connected.
Author: Gizi Aparicio
Image: Ismael Nieto/Unsplash
Editor: Lieselle Davidson