Sunday, April 25, 2010
A Story From The Other Shoes
"Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes."
She thought the gray-haired woman looked familiar, but didn't really have time to investigate. Late again, she hurried to an open spot on the other side of the room from the woman. The yoga class was already on the second set of breathing exercises and the teacher gave her a stern look as she settled in.
What's the big deal? It's only breathing and the closed sign wasn't up yet. I'm not hurting anyone. Her thoughts verged on irritation with the teachers who always made her feel like she was doing something wrong. She paid for these classes, needed them to keep her head clear, didn't appreciate the looks and snide comments. "At least you're predictable." That didn't sound very yogic to her, but she'd heard much worse before and wasn't going to let anyone change her in any way.
Over time she found a second here, a moment there, during and between poses to check out the woman whom she grew more and more convinced she knew from somewhere. And finally she remembered. The hair had been dark brown and longer, the clothing the uniform of an eccentric fifth grade teacher, but the face was basically the same. Her heart did a flip of happy remembering - this woman had been kind to her.
Those years with her son in elementary school had been so hard. No one understood how smart he was, how his behaviors were from boredom and being misunderstood - not because he was bad. She knew no one liked her, saw how all the teachers turned away, suddenly busy and unavailable to listen to her. She knew the principal often told the secretary to have her make an appointment or come back later. She didn't want to sound crazy, be annoying, complain all the time. But she wasn't going to let her son fall through the cracks.
Someone told her to talk to this fifth grade teacher, who apparently had some experience with kids like her son. This teacher listened. Understood. Promised to get help, and followed through. The relief was indescribable, only to be replaced by a deep disappointment when the teacher left the next year.
And here she was again, in a yoga class of all places. There was never any easy way to talk to the teacher, and besides what would she say? But she could be close to her and maybe the teacher would see her and remember and somehow offer kindness again. So even when there were other places to stand in class, she made sure she chose the one that was closest to her old ally, happy to be near her, hoping to be noticed.
photo from Flickr