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My whole family is unexpectedly home today. Governor Patrick has declared a state of emergency and asked all school districts to close and businesses to have employees stay home. Where we are in northeastern Massachusetts has not really been hit yet. It’s been raining, and the wind gusts up a bit sporadically, but right now there is no evidence outside my window to support a day off (it’s 11:00am). But, all I have to do is listen to the radio reports, check out a local news webpage or switch on the television, and the evidence is irrefutable.
This storm has given me a good opportunity to practice mindfulness. All around me I hear people complaining that officials are over-reacting, that weather reporters are paid to boost rating through sensational storm coverage. There is suspicion and anger in Facebook posts, responses to blogs, and notes on local media sites. So I’ve been thinking, what do I sound like?
It’s so easy to get caught up in negativity, especially when our routines are interrupted for reasons we can’t readily see as important. We are so overwhelmed, that we lash out, and the anonymity of most internet sites make us feel we can lash out with impunity.
At a meeting a few months ago, a woman suggested that we add to our norms and expectations list “Assume the best intentions.” I love that addition and have been trying to keep it in mind ever since.
Assume the best intentions. Amazing how powerful that thought is. When I’m in a meeting and can’t seem to find common ground, I flip to where I have that phrase printed on my notebook and I am better able to see a compromise. When I’m reading about policies that seem hateful and hurtful, I remind myself of this phrase and can better see the humanity in “the opposition,” though we may never agree on issues.
Today, it’s easy for me to assume the best intentions of the governor, the emergency personnel in my town, and the school superintendent who called off school. We have been through difficult storms before and no one wants to see a children hurt in a bus accident on the ride home from school.
I’m feeling safe in my little ranch house, miles away from the coast. We made some preparations for the potential of power outages (most importantly, I made cookies), but we’re not worried about flooding here. I’m taking the day to grade the essays I didn’t get to over the weekend and the girls are working on last minute Halloween costumes. They may even carve their pumpkins alter.
I’m also hoping to get to some of the household projects I never seem to have time for. Assume the best intentions.