I was on my way to work this morning, stopped at a stop light, when a woman stepped into the crosswalk talking up a storm. She was by herself, and she wasn't holding a phone to her ear. I knew that wasn't necessarily proof she was talking to herself--Bluetooth headsets are all the rage these days--but I wondered just the same if she was mentally stable. By the time the light had turned green, I was sure she must have been talking into an ear piece that I couldn't see. She was dressed nicely, after all, clearly on her way to work. Right?
Probably, but it didn't take me long before I had convinced myself I was being too quick to judge. I've been reading Eckhart Tolle's The New Earth and listening to the Oprah webcasts over the last few weeks and I could hear Tolle's voice in my ear: "That's your ego. " I knew what I should do--recognize my judgment as part of my ego and release it, without judging myself for the thoughts. But I couldn't. I was ashamed by my behavior. Just because she was dressed well didn't mean she was mentally stable. And if she had been dressed in dirty rags, would that have made a "crazy" judgment anymore acceptable?
Who am I to determine, based on a 5 second glance through my windshield (or my rose-colored glasses, for that matter), who someone is, where she's from and what she's been going through? I'm trying to let it go, to practice presence and know that I am not my thoughts and judgments. I want to move past them. I don't want to hold onto them anymore, not the ones against others and not the ones against myself.
"The first step is becoming aware of these thoughts," Tolle would say. I hope he's right.
If you're interested, I've got a totally unrelated post up over at Damsels In Success--Lessons from the Networking Trenches.