Peg and I like to walk at the mall — for exercise. I’m one of the few lucky guys in the world who married a lady who isn’t a big shopper. In fact I sometimes have a hard time getting her to actually buy something nice for herself. But that’s another story.
The thing about walking in a mall is that it’s a rare day when the outside temperature is just right so that the heat we build up whilst walking matches the clothing we wear on the trip to the mall. Either it’s too hot or too cold, rarely is it just right.
If we arrive early in the morning we can hang coats or sweaters on a rack, or over a sofa-back, and no one will bother them before we are finished with our walk. But if we arrive later in the day, after the stores are open it’s a bit chancey to leave your coat, so we play this game about wearing it, or wrapping it around a waist, or carrying it in our hands as we walk.
And more often than not Peg will ask if I’m comfortable — meaning is it too hot, or cold or should we slow down, or speed up. The thing is, most of the time my mind has been on anything BUT whether I was hot or cold — I’ve been off thinking about something quite other. And frankly, I have been unaware of whether I was hot or cold. It just didn’t matter to me.
It’s good sometimes to have the ability to concentrate on one thing intensely. At other times it leaves you isolated from others. Not everyone can do it. Not everyone wants to do it.
The reason I bring it up is simple. For all of us, we have our own set of priorities. And no matter how close we may be to other people in our life, we aren’t always going to agree with their priorities, or even to be aware of them. Like being unaware that someone else is working up a sweat while I am lost in thought about something else. My reality isn’t your reality. My priorities are not yours. No matter how much I care about you, or how close we are, there are some lines that we are unable to cross. I can’t live someone else’s life. I can try to be understanding and sympathetic, but I can’t be them.
Fortunately, between the two of us, it’s not a big deal. We each gladly adjust our speed, or do an extra lap, or do one fewer laps to fit the needs of the moment. But it’s a good reminder we each inhabit our own reality. We each have feelings which while they may be common, may not be shared IN common at any given moment. And that for someone else, what bothers me may not bother them. And that’s OK. It’s OK to have our own outlook, your own vantage point, your own opinion. In fact, it’s the way life is supposed to be.
I’m not sure how many folks remember Jack Benny, but what the heck….