The Music Lesson, by John George Brown (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
My wife has a saying that I like, "It's better to be kind than right." A truth that Ravenswood Bureau Chief Caren Jeskey explores delightfully today. Her Saturday report:
"We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.” One of my favorites, Anaïs Nin, is credited with this combination of words.
I find that all of my good ideas have come from others in one form or another. Whether receiving direct advice from a mentor or elder (yes, including you Mom & Dad), instruction in school, or picking up on the essence of those I admire, I’ve gleaned a lot from the people around me. I was once told that we are a conglomeration of the six people we spend the most time with. True or not, since then I’ve made an effort to surround myself with those I’d like to emulate for their desirable qualities. Calm, funny, warm, creative, forgiving, caring, intelligent, and those who can admit their flaws and have a sense of humor about themselves. Those who are willing to bend when they have something to learn.
Today had its ups and downs. The ups were waking up in my cozy new Chicago apartment with wood floors and a gorgeous built-in hutch filled with gifts of rugs and furniture from good people welcoming me back. I had Telehealth sessions with clients, an honor and a privilege. I ordered a personal deep dish pizza from Giordano’s. I had a flute lesson. Then I left to find a spot to settle in and work, since I tend to work better at outside establishments with wifi, whereas at home I might get drawn into a project or another episode of Ted Lasso. As soon as I ventured out, everything went kaphooey. First stop, garbage bin. Why oh why do folks throw their garbage and compostables in the recycle bin? Why do my neighbors leave the back gate open when they walk their dogs rather than simply closing it and pulling their key out when they return? Why does no one smile when we pass on the sidewalk? Am I invisible? Then I hit the road. Why does no one stop at stop signs? Why do people race around on little side streets?
I finally made it to a coffee shop with a patio. Why was the waiter so rude that I decided to leave? I almost went home and called mingling with society a wash for the day.
Instead I drove around listening to music until I got an idea. Jerry’s Sandwiches on Lincoln. Right on the Square with the fountain, just south of Lawrence. Free wifi, tasty fare, and a laid back vibe. I settled in with my laptop to get my work done. Chariots of Fire theme in my bluetooth ear bud, I was ready to go. Alas, wah wahhhh. Think the sad, mocking sound in a TV game show where you’ve gotten the wrong answer. No wifi for me on the patio this fine night. The signal was too weak. The waiter kindly invited me inside where the signal is stronger, but with Delta? No way.
Just then I realized: it’s blog time. No wifi needed. Time to write.
I decided to broach the topic of wanting to avoid all human beings today. Feeling disconnected from my fellows. Then I realized that my own irritability had a lot to do with it, and remembered that the world can be different for me if I change into my rose colored glasses.
I decided to kill the waitstaff with kindness. Sometimes I forget how hard COVID times have been on the service industry. They have had to show up—if they were lucky enough to retain their jobs— when many of us were able to stay at home, safe and sound, if we so chose. I went to the Comedy Showcase at Navy Pier this week, a part of the Chicago Humanities Festival. (I’m sure the Fest was much less hardy than it was in 2019. Two short years, and the whole world has changed). One of the performers entertained us with a song that sardonically reminded us of our privilege, and implored us to check it at the door or the opening of the patio when dining out in these hard times.
The result? I won. My server responded to my kindness and we bonded. Turns out, they are a Comedy Drag Queen named Ginger Forest who worked for years with Second City. More recently, they host a children’s story time at Gerry’s on the third Sunday of each month, which is on hiatus thanks to Delta, but will hopefully return soon. They told me that their main message to the kiddos at story time is to be kind rather than judging others.