It happened to me the other the day. There I was, calmly enjoying a quiet lunch in a small cafe with a dear friend when someone walked in and loudly introduced me to her companion as “a member of the spiritual community“. Labeled and identified. Like a butterfly pinned in a glass case, my existence neatly narrowed down to a few short words. It felt very limiting really.
There are a plethora of words I use to describe myself. I am a mother, sister, aunt, niece, friend, colleague, writer, gardener, a keen baker, and an avid book reader. Putting all these attributes together only just begins to scratch the surface of who I am. I am absolutely sure the same holds true for you. Upon absorbing the comment, a tiny storm began to take shape in the deep recesses of my mind. Attempting mindfulness, it was quickly tamed to a mere tropical inversion.
You see, I have a thing about being labelled. What does it mean to be identified as part of the “spiritual community”? Does it mean anyone in the café who perhaps doesn’t consider themselves spiritual is less worthy of inclusion? Truly, isn’t anyone with any beliefs (Buddhist, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Pagan) spiritual? Could you call an atheist, who doesn’t believe in God in any shape or form, spiritual? I mean, hell, atheists do take the time to stop and consider their beliefs regarding what is or is not beyond. The very act of being a living, breathing human being is surely grounds for admittance to the “spriritual community”. In essence, we all belong.
Having lived in Scotland for nearly nine years, I have found many things to love about this country. Because I have moved around and have studied a couple different languages, I feel one of the greatest ways to learn about any culture is to learn their language. Or in this case, dialect. There are a few great Scottish quips I have adopted. One clear favorites is “Take them as you find them”. I first heard this when a person with a grudge was warning a colleague about a certain shopkeeper. My colleague took the hearsay in stride and replied, “Right, well, I shall take ’em as I find ’em”.
I love this succinct and supremely thorough saying. In taking someone as you find them, you put all reports, gossip, and labels aside. You simply evaluate the person on how they respond and present themselves to you at any given moment on any given day. By showing up without any preconceived expectations of how you will be treated you, your approach is open, honest and sincere; essentially a blank canvas. Quite right as we all have bad days and may respond to someone irritably and regret it later. By taking a person as they present themselves, you allow them the chance to recover from a previous unpleasant experience. You allow their best possible personality to unfold. This is one of the greatest benefits we have of being conscious beings. We get to choose how to act as well as how we feel and respond.
In this small village, as a somewhat settled-in outsider, I have been called many things; foreigner, immigrant, and yes, even Yank. To be sure, one of my preferred identifiers is “Daniel and Samantha’s Mum”. However, instead of labelling me as one small section of my many parts, call me who I am, Teresa. Please, take me as you find me and I will do the same.