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Friday, May 04, 2012

Sticks and Stones... Yes, Words Can Sometimes Hurt Me

I put in a lot of hours for the market prior to vacation so that I'd be all ready for the first market of the season -- which opens tomorrow. Felt like I still spent an awful lot of time this week preparing. Didn't get to everything on my list, but yesterday I started culling the the things that didn't absolutely have to happen before Saturday and today, by about 10 o'clock in the morning, I was more or less ready to go and -- bonus -- take a bit of a Friday breather.

Got home to find the kids had made me a list, however. A list I don't really mind since it involves doing stuff with them (more or less) and that was my main goal today anyway. At some point, you just have to say to yourself, "Whatever I've not gotten to, just isn't all that important."

About mid-way through the week I "remembered" that I had a new food blog. I had carefully planned and pre-posted entries for the week I was on vacation. Then I let this week go by without a a peep. Decided to scratch that commitment for the week, as well, and start fresh next week.

It's funny, because what I have also managed to do this week is a lot of cooking. Homemade, completely from scratch meals, including desserts. And even though some of them leaned toward the experimental side of things, they've all been absolutely edible. (Delicious, even!) We had taco pizza with lots of fresh greens. I made whole wheat pasta with sauce left from tomatoes frozen from last season. I made some goat cheese panini sandwiches that were absolutely fabulous. Desserts included chocolate/banana/almond milk pudding and an apple mint/lime/coconut smoothie, of sorts. (It's possible that I'm the only one who truly appreciated the smoothie, but you can't win them all.) And the fun part is that everything this week has been vegetarian and none of my meat eaters have even missed the meat.

Haven't quite gotten back into routine, but as soon as I make it back to the gym (or get on a bike or go for a long walk) I will be in a place I am happy with. Vacation seems to have been exactly the reset button I was hoping it would be. Looking forward to entering the next few months with a bit more leisure fit into each day, rather than always waiting for that rare, eventless Sunday.

Everything I've done this week, everywhere I have gone, I've found myself being absolutely smug with happiness about the people in this community. We are a small town -- about 25,000, I think. But there is a lot of positive energy here and I interact with people every day who inspire me with their goodness and their vision. I suppose I have to admit I've been purposely seeking the positive. Actively looking for examples of what is wonderful about where I live and admittedly avoiding that which brings me down. I tend to be that way sometimes. It's an approach I take more and more as I get older. I don't have time or energy to dwell on the negative.

I say this on top of an email received while on vacation that left me feeling kind of deflated and angry for several hours and keeps returning to my thoughts, even many days later, as I can't seem to help but mull it over and over. It wasn't exactly an anonymous email, but for no more information than was provided, it was clear the sender didn't intend to be looked up. I'm rather computer savvy, however, and was able to do a bit of detective work, to figure out more than I'm sure the sender wanted me to know about him.

I've been online long enough (since the early 1990's) to know that this sort of thing happens. Especially when you have an online presence like a blog or a website, you will get that occasional response that stings. Sometimes it's a random note that the sender has obviously put no depth of thought behind, nor do they really care where it lands. "People from Kansas suck!" was one of my favorites. Oy! Ouch... Really? Is that the best you've got?

When I was writing and publishing frequently about parenting matters, I got quite a bit of feedback about things I wrote. Most of it was positive. Occasionally there would be someone letting me know how misinformed or ignorant I was. Once I got a note from a woman claiming that I was fabricating my life, because nobody could consistently be that happy about being a mom. One that stuck with me for a long time started something like, "You sicken me..." and it actually went on to be a long and thoughtful tirade about sexism and gender issues in our society. The funny thing was, it was in response to a piece I had written about sexism and gender issues in our society, and the writer, more-or-less, came to the same conclusion I had. She hadn't gotten any further than my lead. I actually took the time to respond to that one, and we ended up exchanging a few emails, bizarrely enough. I'm willing to dialogue with thinking people. When people just throw random sticks and stones, I've found it's best to just keep on walking. Pretend I don't hear.

Still, it stings a little bit.

The note this week wasn't directed at anything I'd written. I sincerely doubt this person knows anything about me personally. It was directed at my community. My town. The people I've come to think of as friends and extended family. It was insulting and it was vulgar. It wasn't just a random dart though. It was bigger than "People from Kansas suck!" because this person had been here, in my community. He'd walked among my friends. I'd even spoken to him, I'm pretty sure. If I see him again on the streets, there is a good chance I will speak his name just to see if his head turns. What I will say then, I do not know. I just feel I'd like to know that the face I have put to this name -- this hatred -- is the right one.

This person's attitude is not one of a person who becomes a member of a community -- unless maybe it is a community of haters. The KKK, perhaps? Only this person's group would be anti-small town, anti-rural, anti-grey hair, anti-community pride and anti-doing anything for the greater good.

Once my anger began to pass, I've continued to find myself thinking about this person more than I should admit. At times, I find myself feeling sad for him. At times maybe a little afraid of him. I can't imagine what kind of experiences in life would make a person spew such hatred, especially at such an innocent community of people.

I didn't respond. I even question myself for writing about it here. I don't want to give this person any satisfaction. I don't want to admit that his words hurt me.

What really gets me is that my initial response... maybe for several hours after I read this email... maybe even for the first day or so... I had thoughts like this: Why do I bother? Why even try? If this is how people feel, what point is there in ever trying to put anything good out there in the world?

Why is that one voice full of hate is so much louder than the rest of them? Is it because it magnifies the little bits and pieces of hate we all carry with us and spout from time to time?

So now back at home, I've found myself searching for people to prove those thoughts wrong. And the good news is that I'm seeing them everywhere. We may have different politics. Different religion or no religion at all. Some of us are old. Some are young. Most somewhere in between. We might step right. We might step left. None of this makes us incompatible. Our differences don't make us poorer, they make us richer. Our differences don't make one less than another, they just mean we have different wisdoms.

Call me naive. Say that I'm too shallow or simplistic. After this note, I can honestly say I've been called worse. But it's all just words, right?


BS said...

I have always thought people will say
things on the phone or email that
they would never say to your face.
Hang up or delete, listening or reading
not necessary.

BS said...

And proving I'm not a robot is difficult
, new glasses needed???

Nancy said...

You make qa very good point, Tracy. The person you wrote about is to be pitied for a warped sense of many things. Where we live, what we do is our world and it's what we make of it. You love yours, I love mine and that's the most important thing. Bet it felt good to vent a bit. :)

Tracy said...

Yes! Venting did feel good. And it's allowed me to stop composing nasty replies to this person in my head. ;-)

Anonymous said...

There are some seriously "sad" people in this world. I can't imagine going through life like that- now THAT would suck...