It's That Simple

It's that simple. We're the ones who make it complicated.

At lunch with a dear friend, those two sentences came out of her mouth. Tears welled in the corners of her eyes at the acknowledgement of this painful realization of how complex human relations can become, when our behavior is left unchecked. I nodded in agreement. She's right. I could not help but be struck by this conversation and how true it rang. 

What is "that simple," you ask? The choices we make in dealing with one another. We have options. Our words have meaning, as do our actions. So why do we choose to make things so difficult for each other? 

We know everyone is fighting their own internal battles. So many of us don't have the slightest idea of what is truly burdening the people we care about or interact with on a daily basis. We deal with frustration, disgust, and disappointment in our own lives. Knowing this, why do we so easily lash out at people who love and care about us the most? Why do we put this upon strangers we interact with at the store or on the Internet? Why is it our first reaction to spread the negativity with sharply-worded comments, scowls, and me-first attitudes? I don't know the answer. We aren't perfect. We're all out here, trying to do the best we can. What I do know is that when I can separate myself from these things for even just one moment, it is like pushing my head above water. That breath is a beat, the pause I need to attempt a reset. 

It would be easy to pull a personal example of how someone has made human relations so unnecessarily difficult in my own life, or even how my own self-reflection reveals how I am guilty of doing this to others. Instead, I just want to share a shout-out to a gentleman that exemplified the simplicity of making the human condition a blessing in place of a burden.

At the beginning of the summer, I was running out of contact lenses. When I realized I would need to bring some back up on a trip, I went to Costco to order the lenses. Due to some mistakes on the part of the office where I had my last exam done, my prescription had been messed up. It took several calls, standing at the optometry counter at Costco, to the eye care provider, to finally determine what lenses I would be able to order.

Then there was an ordeal with my vision insurance that took a few phone calls of its own. As all of this was going on, I began to get a little flustered. I was stressed, frustrated, and envisioning all of the other important things I had to get done that day. This task had begun to take much longer than the time that I had allotted, and suddenly, my blood sugar began to drop. I knew I had waited too long to eat due to this delay, but the situation still had not been resolved.

This is where I want to shout-out to Larry from the optometry counter at Costco. He recognized how frustrating this situation had become and how unnecessarily difficult it was for us to find a resolution. He sat down in front of me and apologized for the difficulty, despite the fact it wasn't his fault at all. He laid out all of my options and encouraged me to go home and think about what I needed to do, so I could call or come back when everything was worked out. He also insisted upon providing me with several pairs of sample contacts as back up to hold me over until after my trip. Larry tore away the red tape, took away the details, the things that were making everything crazier than it needed to be. He made it possible to strip away the restrictions and difficulty in order to provide a temporary solution. It was simple underneath all of that complication.

Now I was able to leave and eat lunch! I went across the street to Chick-Fil-A for a quick bite. It was way past lunchtime and my blood sugar was hovering just above low. Of course, the parking lot was busy and I almost got hit three different times, but I was able to get a spot and go in to the restaurant. I got to the door just in time to hold it open for a mother and her young children. I stepped inside and was greeted by cool air and polite, well-trained employees who made it their business to make sure I got everything that I ordered in a timely manner, with a smile. Being around that type of simple service to others, further highlighted how much I appreciated the way Larry had chosen to turn my day around. That feeling is truly contagious, and it's what came to mind at lunch that day when my friend spoke about the details that cloud our ability to treat each other well. 

We can do this. Treat each other well, stripping away the feelings of being "forced" into a bad mood and wanting to wallow in our discomfort and misfortune, awaiting the opportunity to spread it amongst the people in our life. We can choose to do it differently. Choose to be inspired by people like Larry, with small gestures with strangers or larger ones with the people you love. Carry it with you and give it away, for free and without condition.

It's that simple. We're the ones who make it complicated.