STUCK on RIGHT and WRONG

right and wrong At what point are values negotiable?

I was recently sitting at a holiday meal when our host started to serve soup.

When I was served my soup, I sat patiently, with my hands in my lap, waiting for everyone else to be served and for the host to sit down.

To me, this was the respectful thing to do.

The right thing to do.

As clear as night and day.

Well, the person to my left obviously had another opinion because as soon as he was served, he started to eat.

In fact, he was drinking the remainder of his soup (yes, literally) even before the host had a chance to sit down.

I was appalled.

Embarrassed.

Stuck.

In my mind, I wanted to parent this person (who, by the way, wasn’t my child).

I wanted to tell this person that this is not the correct way to behave.

I wanted to teach this person a thing or two about respect.

And then the host came back to the table, saw the empty bowl, and chuckled to the eater, “Hey, why don’t you have some soup, won’t you?”

WHAT???

Was the host laughing?

He wasn’t upset?

Not disappointed?

Thank goodness I caught myself before I opened my mouth.

And, had the chance to just notice.

Perhaps I wasn’t right?

Perhaps there is no right and wrong here?

Perhaps even if there is, I’m really only responsible for my behavior, not his.

So, I just sat there.

And, smiled at that realization.

And then, I was able to enjoy my soup.

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4 Responses to STUCK on RIGHT and WRONG

  1. Jen September 9, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    Judgment is such a gift in our practice of mindfulness, isn’t it? For me, I find that I am getting better and better at hearing judgment in my head like a little bell, a gong that alerts me to the need to be still and watch — or listen — and not … yet…. speak. 🙂

  2. Shira Taylor Gura September 9, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    Thank you for your reply, Jen. Yes, I’m right there with you. Noticing so much more with each passing day. Though, I still get stuck on acknowledgement, to be honest. This practice is hard! I kind of wish people would wake up and notice the efforts I’m making! 🙂

  3. Jamie D September 9, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    Shira,
    As always, thank you for sharing and opening up yourself and your life experiences. I find them inspirational. If it is okay, I wanted to add something to your story. I do believe there is a right and wrong when it comes to proper etiquette at a dining table. My understanding of proper etiquette is that when hot food is served, it is proper to eat right away, so as not to offend the host (by eating cold food). Even if the host is not seated, even if everyone else has not been served, hot food is meant to be eaten at the time of serving. This does not apply to cold food, salads, or cold desserts. I wonder if the guest was following this guideline? Perhaps not, though, because it sounds like the drinking of soup displayed poor manners. I do agree that it is frustrating to sit near someone with poor manners. How wonderful you were able to just notice and not say anything…. I find that I stare at my napkin or glass of water in those situations. It is my version of “biting my tongue”.

  4. Shira Taylor Gura September 10, 2013 at 7:03 am #

    Hey, Jamie. Thanks for your reply. I’m going to invite you to the thread on FB, because I’m finding it fascinating and you may, too. The person at the table wasn’t following any guideline, except for his own desires. I’m actually beginning to realize and learn that it’s way more frustrating for me to be sitting somewhere and judging someone else (and even be unaware that I’m doing so) than witnessing the actual act itself that the person is doing. I personally am so enjoying the awakening, when I find myself judging someone, and then realizing, I really have no place in this world to do so. So, in this instance, it’s not that I was holding back or biting my tongue, per say, but rather, just watching my monkey mind. Just noticing. And, being ok with whatever it was that I was with at that moment, without reacting to it.