We were drenched with sweat…hair dripping wet…shirts stained with evidence of our hard work. And yet we were headed nowhere fast. The bright purple elliptical machines that we strode maybe kept us in one spot, but we were reaching our goals, indeed. And then The Question:
HIM: “Why did you write that post?”, he asked in a way that only a close friend could ask….in a sincere tone that was so concerned, yet gruff all at the same time (side note: I respect that kind of honesty in friendship…I expect it). “What are people going to think?”
ME: “I don’t care what people think”.
He was referring to a Social Media post I had written, telling about how a stranger at the local gym had paid me a great compliment about my “perfect form”. It was an important moment for me. I felt accomplished. And I was filled with an immense amount of gratitude as a result and, therefore, I gave credit where credit was due by publicly thanking my trainer (Troy Crawford) who had coached me so well over the last three years. And I could’ve stopped right there. Period. End of story. Next post.
But that would’ve been a half-truth. The full extent of the truth is that I also owed a great amount of commendation to my previous trainer, too. In fact, I had actually learned even more from him over the prior four years; and I didn’t think it would be fair to exclude him from my gratitude. After all, no one likes to be excluded…I certainly don’t. And the fact is, I am truly grateful for his coaching. But why it’s so strange to others that I would thank my previous trainer is because we’ve been estranged for over three years (shocking…“What WILL others think?”). The amount of pain that our families (we are neighbors) have caused each other is undeniable (something I wish we could change moving forward). But by societal standards, I should view him as my enemy. I mean…it is man-code, after all, is it not…that when a man is crossed more than twice, that the offender is written off for good. Pay one hurt with another hurt. Reciprocate a cold shoulder with another cold shoulder. This is how it’s supposed to be, right? Sweep it under the rug. Box it up…archive it on a shelf. Never again. Period. End of story.
But that is not how it goes for me. I’m different…or at least I try. My standards are based on another foundation. Plain and simple….that is not the world I want to live in. The ancients in Roman and Greek societies encouraged paybacks to the point that people would actually pray curses against their enemies. Sadly, we don’t seem to be so different, today. We see hate crimes and racial offenses splashed all over our television and computer screens…and we all point our scathing fingers at the offenders, bearing down even more shame on sad events that are full of shame and doom already. Politicians…leaders we pick…fight in the aisles and we, The People, jump right along beside them. In all these moments, we behave like a bunch of elementary school children circling around a school yard brawl chanting, “Fight, fight, fight.”. It’s Us vs. Them. Divided. Toxic People…not me, you! Red Flags. Self Love. Take Care of Yourself…Take Care of Your Own. Until somebody gets shot. And then here come the Social Media Posts: “The World Needs More Love”. “Let’s All Get Along”. “Love One Another”.
And yet, we wonder why it doesn’t change.
It doesn’t change, because we won’t change. Let me ask you all a question…a question I’ve been asking myself for a while now. When was the last time you chased someone? No…not in a romantic way…don’t go there. Think about it…we encourage each other to Chase Our Dreams. We are applauded when we Chase Our Goals. It’s ok to do those things. But when will we begin to Chase Each Other? Be the first one to reach across the aisle….to be the first one to throw your arm around the shoulder of someone who slanders the name of another….to be the first to say “Thank you…Well done!” to an estranged neighbor. To teach love is to be love. I don’t want to just love those who love me back. That’s easy…anyone can do that (and by the way, my neighbor down the street…he’s not my enemy). The change won’t come until we start to Love Our “Enemies”…the change won’t come until there’s no more “Us vs. Them”. Yeah…I guess I’m just different. And I don’t care what other people think about that. Period. End of Story.