Assuming the Best

It’s busy season for me, I have (at last count) 14 designs which have been accepted in the past few weeks, most of which are due during the month of April (I’ve finished several already, and some of them are small pieces)

So that’s good – and that’s mortgage for a few months.  Mortgage is good!

I’m also trying to set up teaching gigs where/when I can, working in designs for another book, and doing the ‘taking care of family’ thing. Life is busy, which is better than the alternative!

I’ve also been doing some serious soul searching. I guess I do soul searching on a pretty regular basis, I tend to think a lot – assess my actions and words, try to understand how they impact others, and consider ways to change my words and deeds so that I leave as much peace in my wake as possible.

Obviously, I don’t always achieve this.

Misunderstandings happen. In my case they tend to revolve around miscommunication more than anything else; I’ve not explained something well, I’ve heard something incorrectly, or something I said was translated/related to someone erroneously.  One of my big goals in life is to catch those as soon as they happen, try to address them and offer my sincere apology / explanation for what might have gone wrong.

Taking responsibility and working to resolve an issue is, I am convinced, the hardest yet most worthwhile thing I need to do as a freelancer / small business owner.

There are times when I know there’s been a misunderstanding, but it’s been practically impossible to figure out what has actually happened.

For instance, a few years ago an event organizer – for no reason I could discover – recommended that I not be hired at the event again.  This kind of stuff happens in the knitting world, especially when someone is as outspoken as I can be, and I’ve long come to terms with the fact that not every teacher is every event’s perfect fit.  And, generally, when I don’t get asked back to teach somewhere it’s mutual and I understand why.

But I had no IDEA what had gone wrong in this case. I wrote to the organizer for clarification but didn’t hear back. I kept hitting brick walls. It was painful, and because it was such a mystery, and it seemed to strike at the very core of my identity as a hand knit teacher. I found that it actually impacted my willingness to reach out to new venues, I felt as though I had a bad smell.

A few years went by, I was still in the dark, but I was invited to give a talk at a sister event by the same organization. The talk went well, I didn’t wear my glasses so – blind as a bat – I evidently smiled and charmed and whooped it up from stage with the person who had been angry with me. And all was forgiven. And I still don’t know what I did in the first place.

Heaven knows that I have an – ahem – strong personality and I was more than willing to accept that I’d said or done something which had caused a riff (even if I was entirely oblivious to what I might have done.) But it remains a mystery, and all’s well that ends well.

I write this because I’ve learned that the world of knitting teachers / events / retreat / symposiums is a world of interesting stories. Sometimes these stories can cause folks to become upset with someone else, and it’s very possible that the tiny little nut at the center of the disagreement is something inconsequential, even neutral. I guess a lot of the world is like this – perhaps a bit like junior high school – where we pass stories and gossip around, because that’s the nature of being human beings in a society!

Every day I try to grow, to become a better person, or at least not to be a worse person than I was when I went to sleep the night before. It sounds so easy, but it’s very hard – we all know this, I think we all try to do the same thing.

Recently I visited a local business and was treated incredibly rudely. The manager of the business was so vitriolic that one of the other customers (a woman I’d never met) followed me to my car to express her sympathy with the manager’s outburst, and to say that she was as mystified as I was as to what had actually just happened.

It was silly, but this really bad experience stuck with me. I was already in a bad place from some other stuff that had happened, and I allowed this to push me into a spiral – taking me to a “I’m just a rotten human being!” self pity place that was NO help at all.

I talked about it to friends, I went over the experience in my mind, and finally I just let it go – I figured that the manager was having a very bad day I happened to wander into it.

I tried to do what my mother always asked me to do: Assume the best.

Mom would ask me to ‘assume the best’ whenever someone was mean to me.

“Assume that they’re really a nice person at heart, but today something terrible happened to them and they can’t help but be angry and you happen to be there.”

“Assume that last night they were up all night with a sick kid and they have NO energy left and allowed it to get the better of them.”

Because, as my mom said, “If you assume the best, the worst you’ll look is a fool.  If you assume the worst, you could look like a bitch. And I’d rather look like a fool than a bitch.”

And, as Al Franken says, “When you assume you make an ass out of Uma Thurman”

And then today a kind of miracle happened.

The store manager sent me chocolate. She wrote a note to apologize for her behavior, and she sent me a box of candy.  I’m blown away.

I love it when things like this happen; the chocolate, getting asked back to teach at an event that I love, someone reaching out to clarify something instead of allowing it to fester.

I’m trying hard to keep these GOOD things close to my soul and dwell on them instead of pulling out the bad/wrong/mean things that happen (which always seem to find a way to worm themselves into my heart when I’m at a low point…)

And I will eat some chocolate. And ponder to whom I should send a box…