I am reminded occasionally by someone or something that there are people with whom I interact who pay much closer attention to me and my actions than I realize. These are not lurkers or people up to no good, but, instead, they are people who I know now or knew in different times of my life, and upon whom I have had and continue to have some kind of impact. They also include people I do not know and who probably do not know me.
That is a bit spooky but it happens to each of us, I’m sure. When we least expect it, we may well be setting an example for someone. That includes not just what might be good examples, but also what are very poor examples. If we lose our temper, who saw that and made note of it, and how will that affect them or their acquaintances in the future? Similarly, if we help a friend or neighbor or simply a fellow human being and are observed doing so, how will that affect those who might be watching, and will it be for the better or worse?
I don’t want to come off sounding all self-important with this, but we’d each be wise to realize just how important our actions or lack of actions can be for others whom we aren’t even aware we’ve influenced. Especially for those whom we are not aware that we have influenced. If someone has been observing our interaction with another person, have they seen a caring exchange or a snide or nasty exchange that leaves them cringing?
Have you ever had one of those ‘gotcha’ moments when you look around to see if you’ve been observed? Of course you have if you’re being honest with self; we all have if we’ll be honest with self. That is part of the human condition and we are all afflicted with that condition until we take our last breath. Some of us are able to overcome the seamier sides of that condition and others of us permit it to take over our lives. Some of us seem totally unaware of the impact our condition at a particular moment might have on another or on others.
People in the public eye are more attuned to this than are probably those of us who just go about our daily lives as ourselves and not someone being watched and emulated. When we stop to think about it, though, we are all in the public eye except when we are absolutely alone inside our home or automobile. Even in our automobile, we are setting examples by the way in which we share the road. When was the last time you voiced your displeasure with the driver beside you or in front of or behind you? Did that include a physical gesture, as well as a verbal outburst?
Those who know me personally know that I am certainly no “goodie-two-shoes”, but I have, over time, tried to smooth off my rough edges to be more considerate of others and to recognize that I might be impacting some person at the very moment that would have either a good or not-so-good impact upon that person. Those self-reminders are a good habit for me since I don’t think I’ll ever outlive all my rough edges. Just when I think I might’ve made some progress, I regress.
Among the things I might have finally succeeded in learning and accepting is this: I will always need forgiveness, but I can sure work diligently to cut down the number of times I need that forgiveness. One thing that seems to work as well for me in this respect, as anything I’ve tried, is a simple smile on my face for everyone I meet whether or not I know them. (If nothing else, it’ll drive them nuts as they try to remember where they met you!)
Whoops! There I go again. Guess I haven’t made as much progress as I’d hoped.