What I Saw

Everyday I see more and more bad behavior. Bad actions, bad decisions, bad words, and just plain bad and absolutely unnecessary behavior. I turn on the computer or the TV and it’s all negative. Anywhere there is “news”, the majority is negative. It’s not only negative but the level of disrespect that is happening in our world is atrocious. And I’m not limiting it to any particular anything…no specific group, no specific person, no specific anything. It’s just bad behavior straight across the board. It’s enough to make anyone cynical. At times, it’s easy to get caught up in it myself. Sometimes I think that this is just how it is nowadays and that becoming a hermit is the way to go.

This past summer, we took a vacation. My husband (then fiancé) and I, along with three of the kids, set out on a cross country car trip. We left Wisconsin and made our way to our final destination of Florida. That trip actually helped me to learn some truths about what I’ve been seeing in the ‘news”.

Our stops along the way exposed us to lots of people and the human condition in general. Of course the human condition is different for each person. It’s good for people to get out to see it for themselves. You may be exposed to something you never knew or only just heard about. Not once along our journey did I see anything “bad” as far as behavior from people. In fact, I saw lots more good from people. Oh, wait, I think someone gave us the bird on the freeway but that’s about it. People can just be jerks, some more than others. Jerks are a daily thing that we all deal with but I am not talking about everyday a-holes. That is never gonna change.

There are a few things that stand out from our trip. I’m a people watcher so I usually will just sit back and take in a scene. I find it fun and I also enjoy finding an occasional “character” that I could add to my drawing file. We spent one whole day playing at Pensacola Beach and I remember scanning the crowds and just taking in all that was going on around me. There were hundreds of people there, maybe a thousand spanning the entire beach. And I didn’t see one sign of bad behavior like I see plastered all over the “news”. I saw people and families of different colors, ethnicities, ages, basically all walks of life were represented. I didn’t see or encounter any bad behavior. I saw an Indian family swimming in full body coverings and no one said anything mean to them. They also didn’t say anything mean to anyone else. Right next to them were people in bikinis and shorts and no gasps were heard. Luckily, Speedos were few and far between but there were a few too many thongs for my eyes. But I digress. African Americans and Caucasians all parked their bodies next to each other on the sand and no one cared. There were fat people, skinny people, and all people in between. No one said a thing. If you listened, you could hear different languages. And not one person “freaked out”. According to the “news”, people are freaking out and heads are exploding on a daily basis.

One of the best parts of watching all of this was the children. Kids that didn’t know each other all came together and just played with each other. They built sand castles and played with frisbees. They ran around and splashed in the ocean waves. None of them noticed their differences. They all were able to have fun together and enjoy each other despite being different.

The elderly were also well represented on the beach that day. I remember being in the water and waiting for an incoming wave. A grandma was getting in the water when the wave hit and it pushed her right back to shore and she had to crawl out. She crawled her way onto the beach just laughing and we all laughed with her. No one picked on her because of her wrinkles or saggy skin. She was just allowed to “be”. We all should be allowed that. (For the record, I was not that Grandma! I know what you’re thinking.)

The more we traveled, I saw people working hard to take care of their families. I saw a woman at a restaurant say a prayer before her meal (can’t blame her, it was Taco Bell…). People let other people ahead of them in lines for the bathrooms. Cashiers were friendly and waitstaff did their best to accommodate people all while staying friendly during the stressfulness of their jobs.

I want to imagine that the world is more like my day at Pensacola Beach. That we’re all just people who are trying to live our lives and enjoy the things we can. We were a beach full of different people from different walks of life, full of different experiences and ideas. None of us had any ideas about the stresses of each others daily lives. None of us asked or cared whether another person was a Republican or a Democrat. People were probably there for different reasons. Some to have a family day, some to relax from a stressful job or event, some to just get away and spend some time recharging their souls. Yet, we were able to live amongst each other and enjoy the same things. At least for a short time.

Am I still cynical? Sadly, yes. I see how our world LOVES to play up the bad and we have to look far and wide to find the good. I am going to try to remember the good from this trip whenever I start getting too far into the throes of despair about our world. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative when you look at everything as a whole. When I look at it on a smaller scale, a more personal individual basis-it’s easier to see the good. I try to remember the phrase “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. I do hope that more people take that to heart and act on it and just allow people to “be”. Just like we all did that day at Pensacola Beach.

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