IndiGlow - The Ordinary Illuminated

IndiGlow - The Ordinary Illuminated

Be Kind, Guest Editor Michelle Ladwig

Monday, June 02, 2014
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
                                               - Plato

I work in an environment where I see the same people at the same time every day.  It is the life of a teacher.  For 16 weeks at a time we, college professors and students alike, move like clockwork, quite consistent in our where and when.  All together we consist of about 2,000 worker bees with many queen bees holding down one ever-buzzing hive.  

Because of this time-aligned movement, I see people through seasons, through colds and sniffles, through accomplishments, mild injuries, really anything the average human can get themself into.  At the beginning of the year I ran into a young man as I was exchanging classrooms with a colleague. This young man is tall as a wildflower, thin as a rail, and has a soft and effeminate voice. 

During this 2 minute classroom exchange with limited dialogue, I watched and listened as my colleague (with more clout that I have) refer to this young man as a female.    

My heart was broken.  My eyes went from my colleague to the kid and back again.  I tried to gently interject and correct.  His expression was one of dejection and sad acceptance, like a puppy accepting his corner of the den.  Everything about my colleague was bluster and position.          

I was angry.  I couldn't call out my colleague, and I really just wanted to hug that poor kid who didn't have to seem the voice to correct him.  I guess what really bugged me is that my colleague had so much ego he couldn't get out of his own way to recognize the delicacies of another human being.        

But really, are we any more superior?  Don’t we make judgments daily?  Think about our average grocery store. There’s the fat lady with a buggy filled with poor choices; the teenager with tattoos and gauges; the dad using his food-stamps, holding up the line.  

I do.  You know you do.


But, the more I think about it, my colleague didn't pass judgment.  That isn't the case.  He didn't think, I’m guessing, oh, what a homely girl or some such.  He made an assumption and that isn't the same as judgment. Right?  Please someone explain this to me.


He assumed that kid was one thing because he didn't look a certain way.  He didn't ask questions. He didn't take the time to know each singular person in the classroom.  He just barreled through them, focusing on his agenda.       

Speaking of the dad in the grocery line, this happened to me.  Dad was trying to pay for his groceries with his food stamps.  It was taking a while.  I leaned in and chatted with his toddler girl about colors and the shapes of balloons.  The clerk apologized for the wait.  The dad apologized for the wait, but really I felt he was apologizing for being poor.  I don’t care if you’re poor.  I don’t care if you are overweight and like Little Debbie’s.      

I certainly don’t care if you want to dress outside the social construct of your gender.   Our kid has now begun cross-dressing.   And it isn't dressing for attention.  He isn't dressing in drag.  I had a kid in my high school class who dressed in drag: all kinds of wrong gathered from Grandma’s and Goodwill.    

This kid is dressed like a stylish teenage girl.


If I didn't know him before, I would sincerely think she is the tallest girl I have ever seen. And the prettiest. Quite pretty.  Lovely mid-west, corn silk blonde hair, blue eyes, and thin lips like a pulled bow.

I don’t know what’s in her head.  I am not in a position to ask.  My only option is to open doors when we cross paths, which happens twice a week at 10:20, and smile.  I hope my smile is thing that keeps her alive and happy and healthy and positive.  I hope a smile walks her to her future.

I love that kid with no name.  She is everyone I ever walked past.

"Who apart from the gods is without pain for his whole lifetime's length?" ~Aeschylus

Friday, December 28, 2012
Do not be ashamed of your pain or the effects it brings. There will be those who are close to you who will not understand, but do not despair. Part of our human existence is to experience pain in some form or another...allow this moment to build your capacity for compassion, even for those who might forsake you in your hour of need. Pain does not discriminate, and while it might not show it's face to us all in the same way or at the same hour, it will visit every single one of us at some point in our lives. May this truth bind us together and ultimately increase our capacity for compassion, understanding, and loving-kindness for one-another. Please be kind to those who are suffering, as we will all know suffering and need the kindness & understanding of others at some point along our journey.

(I originally wrote & posted this to one of our Facebook pages in May of 2012.  I'm in the midst of a painful migraine today and needed a reminder so I'm reposting.)

If you live with chronic pain, how do you manage it?

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