Good morning everyone and happy Saturday once again! This past week has been a cold one for sure; even my Texan friends are getting a taste of what winter is really all about.
Don’t be a hero, Hank!
Oh sure, us folks up north can roll our eyes at “a little bit of snow and ice”, but that’s because we’re prepared for it. We have plenty of warm clothes in our closets, the cities have salt loaded up on plows ready to go at a moment’s notice, and the further remote you get, the more often you’ll see tires with small spikes in them and/or chains wrapped around them. When I lived in Wisconsin, people would take advantage of the Fox River freezing almost solid and would use it as an expressway for their snowmobiles, ATVs and snow bikes. (I’m guessing they still do that.) Right now, there’s a posting on my Facebook feed from someone from the Northwoods who reported a -9F air temperature, which once again solidifies my disinterest in moving into even colder climates than I’m already in. Brrrrrr! No thanks. I’ll visit The Dells in summer and embrace my FIBiness.
Oopsies! Sorry, my bad. I was looking for Paul Bunyan’s and missed my turn.
So, is winter fun for you, or is it a big headache? Or worse? For my military readers, how did/do you handle colder climates while on duty? When I was in my first year of college, one of my Communications classmates was a Marine who had spent some time in the Middle East. For a presentation, he passed around some pictures of himself in the desert, posing with camels and stuff. I noticed in many of the pictures, he was wearing wool caps and padded uniforms. Showing my ignorance, I asked why he was dressed so warmly, and he said the desert gets winter, too, and they made the best of things like we do here. Kind of like this clip I just found:
Of course, this was just a year after I had learned there was a whole religion out there called Islam, so I’ll cut myself some slack for asking such a dumb question. In hindsight though, don’t we all ask dumb questions at one time or another and have therefore donned the N00B hat? What’s important really is how we treat the people asking “dumb” questions, and what the people asking do with the new information. Yes, it can get frustrating when people ask the same things over and over when you known they have Google in their pockets. And, because people have been given the eye roll or even a serious tongue-lashing so many times, they don’t even bother asking questions a search engine just isn’t going to satisfy.
My classmate, standing at the podium, didn’t roll his eyes at me, and I have to guess before he got there, he hadn’t realized how cold it gets out that way, either. So, with my question, instead of going “Duh!”, he took the cue and went with it. I don’t think he was able to cover the topics he had on his cards, because his story went from “I did A, B and C”, which would have been interesting enough, into something a whole lot more. He shared personal experiences we, his classmates, would probably never know without going through it ourselves – like how homesickness didn’t officially kick in until that evening, lying in his bunk, after the snowball fight he and his fellow Marines had earlier that day. In fact, he was such a quiet, kind of emotionless guy, always sitting in back and never saying much of anything. I remember thinking he looked like a lumberjack with those flannel shirts he always wore. In fact, I don’t think any of us had known anything about him other than his name. (Robert, by the way. His name was Robert.)
For the rest of the course, Robert went from just being that big, quiet, serious guy in the back to a bit of a celebrity. He definitely carried himself differently, participating and smiling more. People liked to be around him. And, his Beavis impression was pretty funny, too.
Really this week, that’s pretty much what I wanted to cover: If you ask “dumb” questions, and/or if you’re tired of answering them. When people ask you about your service, what is your response? Do you take cues and run with them? Do you share a bit about yourself? Do you change the subject? It seems to me when a person shares a bit about him/herself, the entire topic can be humanized. You’re not just a guy who’s good at taking orders. To the person asking the “dumb” questions, you’re also now the guy who likes snowball fights and watching campy cartoons. The person asking may want to know what’s your strategy for winning the snow war: Do you build a fort? Do you line up a bunch of snowballs or make them one at a time? Were you home for that blizzard a couple years ago? And so on.
Earlier this week, Ron and I watched a documentary on Netflix called The Man with Half a Body. Talk about humanizing someone! At first glance, Kenny’s disability is all anyone notices. The camera showed people literally pointing at him at the mall and giggling, or worse, turning away out of their own embarrassment. But because Kenny is accepting of his situation, he has people all over the world who are truly inspired by his life. He’s really a simple guy who has a lot of the same struggles as the rest of us, but of course he has a ton more. And what’s the first thing we noticed about him? He’s an Iron Maiden fan, too! Awesome! After the show, I looked him up on Facebook, and not only was I happy to see he’s in a new relationship, but the guys from the band posed for pictures. How cool is that?! (Okay, some of you aren’t as impressed. I get that. Hehe.) But how about the honor of carrying the Olympic torch? Not everybody gets to do that. It’s because he chose to share so much of his life people genuinely like him for himself. Kenny’s an awesome dude for sure, and I’d like to go hang with him sometime. S’up, bro!
The same can be said about your beliefs. When someone just learning about Paganism asks basic questions, how do you answer those? I’m not talking about proselytizing, I’m talking about people who genuinely want to know what’s up with that table in the corner full of weird stuff. How do you respond? Are you guarded? Perhaps even a little embarrassed for being different? Or, are you proud of your beliefs and share a little too much, scaring people off before they get to know you for everything else about you as a fellow human being? That’s pretty much what I’m getting at this week: Humanizing yourself. Let people see you for who you are – all of your many shining facets. Once people get to know you, they’ll want to know other people who have the same basic experiences as you do. That’s how stereotypes are broken, a little at a time – that gentle, non-activism activism I wholly endorse.
Well, my phone’s starting to ring and it’s after 9am, so I do need to wrap things up. Yule is just around the corner, so feel free to share a bit about yourselves along with the gifts. Take care, and many blessings to you and yours.