Sometimes it becomes difficult to think of oneself as anything other than a cog in a larger system. We go round and round and everything seems to blur together. Did I take the kids to that activity yesterday or the day before that? Was I supposed to pick up that semi-important item today or tomorrow?
When we are busy everything blends into a pasty haze of memories. We spend days in our own personal space sometimes never giving away a genuine smile or comment. Perhaps this is why random compliments come as such a surprise, causing us to give counterproductive knee jerk replies.
Earlier I took my morning bicyle trip around town. As I meandered to the top of a familiar long, winding, steep graded hill, a dog walker smiled and yelled out a bit of encouragement. Within her compliment she mentioned how difficult the hill was to climb. It made me smile, but really my first thought was how this wasn’t the toughest hill I’d encountered in the past month. I wasn’t even trying very hard to go up this hill.
Honestly, my mind was on other things so what may have appeared as a struggle was really me not concentrating on speed. In the moment I was a little embarrassed that my lack of effort really looked like a struggle for endurance. Especially since just two months ago I had struggled for that very endurance, and finally built it up over the course of a 500+ mile state wide cycling trip. How could I let somebody think that I was having a difficult time on such a small hill? Initially I thought to correct her lovely comment with all this, but then I realized the reaction would have been all about my ego.
So many neighbors never exchange pleasantries during the daily grind, and this one lady stepped out of her comfortable silence. Who was I to ruin such a beautiful moment? Thankfully I realized this before I opened my mouth. Instead I smiled, nodded, and yelled back my thanks. As I finished my morning cycling routine this thought spun itself in my mind:
“When paid a compliment accept it with the grace you want to possess. Do not dismiss or expand on it and explain how you could have done better or have done better. This is a gift of the moment and anything beyond a graceful acceptance could destroy or alter the gift givers own grace. Thus eliminating or altering the purity of the next compliment for another.” –MJL Jackson
In our daily lives how many times have compliments been paid and ruined by a moment of self-doubt or an over the top ego? Why?