You know you have lived in the mountains for a while when it is 20 degrees outside yet you still debate whether you need your heavy jacket for a bicycle ride into town. On that day, I decided to err on the side of caution and wear my warmest coat. Thirty minutes later I was regretting it. By the time I was halfway through my errands, I was sweating like the cast of Duck Dynasty at a gay pride parade. I opened the vents on my helmet and pulled the zipper down to my navel.
My last stop was Main Street to exchange some jeans — a Christmas present from my mate — cut in that new school fashion of having back pockets behind your knees and designed to show about 4 inches of butt crack. In my wife’s defense, she didn’t know those trousers were intended for snowboarders and plumbers. Christmas morning she was much chagrined as I modeled the pants for her. As an added bonus I had placed one of her gifts in the back canyon, just above the low waistline. Kind of like a new-school version of Santa’s sack.
So after exchanging the pants for a pair more befitting a man my age, I was waiting at the stop sign to cross the road. I had taken off my down coat and placed it in my pack and was wearing only a hoodie. What I saw next made me laugh.
Interesting to see
Walking down Main Street was a young (I can only guess her age) gal wearing a coat better suited for Mt. Everest. She wore a wool hat pulled down over her ears, a tuft of red hair sticking out the back, a full face mask and mittens that looked like boxing gloves. Though the sun was out and there was little breeze, her eyes were covered by goggles and she marched hunched over, as if walking into gale force wind.
She passed in front of me as I waited at the intersection.
My initial feeling was one of mirth and superiority. Seemed like a little overreaction to a day that was cold but not crazy cold; it made me feel burly riding a bike in only a sweatshirt. My pride gave way to sympathy for that gal, assuming she was mentally challenged in some way and thus her outfit was a symptom of instability.
After she passed and walked on, it dawned on me that perhaps she wasn’t fragile, nuts or overreacting; maybe she simply experiences the cold differently than I do. There was no call for pity, pride or prejudice, it was merely another example of the human condition. We all see, think and feel things in our own way. Like most things in life, it is all a matter of perspective.
The human state is unique and singular. My mate can be brought to tears by a sunset, virgin forest, majestic peaks or that dance I do when I exit the shower. When I see those same things, certainly I can appreciate their splendor, but I can’t say I’m as moved as my wife. I wish I could experience those same blessings (my dancing excluded) through her eyes as I’m sure they would be more splendid.
It is easy to accept that each of us senses and sees the same objects through varying eyes. Once I was reminded of this, it was possible for me to refrain from feeling superior or sorry for that shivering redhead. What is less easy for me is to acknowledge that those with dissenting views of social and political issues are not necessarily foolish, selfish or heartless, they simply view those same issues — and the world in general — differently than I do.
We have ways for dealing with those with dissenting views; it’s called democracy. Though we all might perceive life, politics, spirituality, even the cold, contrarily, those in the majority get to establish policy and set the thermostat. It is just as foolish condemning someone because they are hot or cold as it is because they are liberal or conservative. Feel free to judge due to kindness, honesty, integrity or character — there are many with all those qualities on either side of aisle.
We all see the world contrarily. Some feel the cold, while others do not. Some people are brought to tears by beauty, others only wish they were. And some might even think low-riding jeans are attractive on a guy my age; usually those are the ones with glaucoma.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.