The perception of intentions.

There are so many acts that are done with good intentions that are perceived as anything but nice. It is a messy, dirty world we live in. Our lives are muddled with stories of deceit, infidelity, abuse, sex slavery and political division. You can’t trust what you read, you can’t trust what you see on television. You can’t trust what you hear on the news.

So… how then, can you trust your fellow man? It is a very sticky slope we are sliding down. It’s getting slicker by the day and if we don’t stop it now, we will find our ourselves in a mudslide that causes irreversible harm. We project our experiences, our past and our lives on the actions of other. How can we trust that some one else’s intentions are good when we are not sure that we trust ourselves.

After living in Philly for nearly 10 years, I moved to the south. I was 28 and thought I understood the world. Philly is a city where you have to watch your back. I learned that trust needed to earned. I learned that it was safer to believe someone was guilty until proven innocent. Somewhere along the way, I stopped trusting. The best intentions were meant with a questioning eye. Why are the being nice? What are they up to? What do they need from me? I could take care of myself, I didn’t need their help.

What a sad state to be. A few bad experiences and now, my life was spent looking over my shoulder and doing it all on my own. So, back to south. I arrived, excited for my next adventure, with this yankee girl chip on my shoulder. And boy, was that chip big.

Stilling by the pool, that first week, was like living in foreign country. “We’re tossing burger in the grill, hey new girl, you want one?” “No thank you.” “Hey new girl, need a beer?” “No thank you.” “Hey, we’re all heading to the bar across the street, want to come?” “No, thank you.” I projected my experience on their intentions. I had been wronged in the past by strangers, so I assumed they would be the same. I assumed they had an ulterior motive.

Finally, one of the couples came up to me and said, “Hey new girl, we are all neighbors, we are gonna be at this pool together all summer long. We keep the cooler stocked, we all chip in money for burgers. We all have a good time. This time’s on us, next time bring $5 or some beers or a side to share.” Him and his wife walked away and she looked back and said, “Or sit there by yourself and watch the fun go on around you, it’s your choice. I swear we won’t bite.”

Well, there you have it. And so, I put away my book and tentatively reached in their cooler for a beer and joined them in a game of volleyball. And did so, almost everyday, of every weekend for the next 3 summers. Southern hospitality at it’s finest. Such a strange concept for this untrusting yankee girl who had spent the last 10 years in Philly.

I took my experiences and imposed them upon their intentions and perceived them as something so much worse than neighborly kindness. This happens everyday in our lives. Reality, intentions and perception have become so disjointed that they can ruin lives, opportunities and friendships.

Maybe, we need to stop listening to the voices from our past and start looking forward with fresh eyes. We need to step out of our own muck before we can wash our glasses clean and see things are a little brighter when we have our feet firmly planted on dry ground where we can admire our glitter dripped Color Street pedicure.

Not the easiest thing to do, but man do I sparkle when I’m clean. I feel so much better when I allow myself to step around my protective wall and extend a little trust. It’s a little dusty on my side of the wall. More often, than not, I find a smiling face on the other side just waiting to be a friend. I find laughter. I find new experiences. I find that my perception of their intention was so far from the truth that my previous perception seems laughable now.

We listen to the wrong of this world and we take it in. We become what is wrong. And even worse, we pass this on to the next generation. Our warped perception becomes their reality. They never get the chance to sparkle because we muddy their innocent, little minds before they get the chance to see the shiny side of life. My experiences are not the same as yours. So, my intentions will not be the same as yours. You never really know if those intentions are good or bad until you take the time to ask.

How does a child learn? By asking questions. A lot of questions. More questions than this Mommy can answer on the way to karate. And one day, they will all get answered. They are to naive to be uncomfortable asking awkward questions. So for today, I will get out of my own head and take a lesson from the small boy. I will ask. I will question. I will make a better effort to not let my past, second guess your intentions. I will let you show me what those intentions are. I will make a better effort to allow you a chance to prove my perception wrong. I hope you do, and if you don’t? Well, maybe, instead of an awkward relationship, I’ll be able to walk away knowing we were not meant to be friends. But maybe, just maybe, you prove me wrong and something amazing happens. A new friendship, a new experience, a new opportunity. Maybe, we will find a little sparkle along the way.

It’s been a good chat, thanks for listening. I hope that you gave me a chance to change your perception because, I want you to remember, in the midst of chaos, sparkle. Don’t let life dull your shine.

Much Love,

The Manicured Mom

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