<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1514203202045471&ev=PageView&noscript=1"/> A Case of Mistaken Identity | Core Spirit

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Mar 10, 2024
Reading time 3 min.

I am by no means religious. I was raised as a Reformed Jew in a middle-class town in New Jersey. My partner and I were invited to a Friday night Shabbat dinner at a friend's house visiting Tucson. Shabbat is the Jewish Sabbath. It was an invitation for connection and community. We are not religious and, as such, not observant Jews. I would never turn down an invitation for a good meal and an opportunity to connect with people I care about.

Before arriving at our friend's house, I had a "moment" with my partner. The volume of my impatience was dialed up and very much directed toward her. The conversation around the dinner table was animated. We all shared what we were grateful for and what concerned us. As my partner was speaking, she inadvertently waved her hand directly in front of my face several times. Already feeling pissed, her unconscious action served to piss me off yet even more. In retrospect, there were many things I could have said or done that would have let her know to please stop. Instead, I chose to push her hand away. I did that more than once. It was not a very relational thing to do. It was unkind.

Several days later, I was hiking with the same friend who had extended the invitation to dinner. We had just crested the top of a rather steep climb and paused to rest. As we caught our breath and started to chat, he shared how my impatience toward my partner impacted him. He clearly stated "that I am an impatient man." We are casual friends. He doesn't have an intimate understanding of my life or really know who I am. In the few words he shared, it felt like, in his mind, he defined the totality of who I am. It came across as a statement of absolute being. My act of impatience became his judgment of who I am. He could have asked about what was going on for me at that moment or more about my relationship with my partner. He could have chosen connection and relationship. Instead, he chose judgment.

Reflecting on that short interaction, I am left wondering how that person's judgment directed outward towards me is instead a projection of some internal unresolved conflict in his life. I am left wondering about all the judgments I cast into the world toward people I don't know. I am amazed at how easy it is for me to have a judgment about a homeless person, a prostitute, a drug addict, a gun owner, or a mother or father dealing with the stress of their lives. I carry an entire catalog of people who are not like me that I hold judgments about. I have mentioned before that there are evil people in the world from whom I need to protect myself, my family, and my friends. That is not what I am talking about. I can never know what is going on in the lives of the people I encounter as I move through my life. I am wondering how my judgments could help me better inform myself about my own life and what I need to look at and heal. The judgments I hold serve only to keep me feeling separate from humanity. I ultimately always want to deepen my own humanness.

There is a space between the story in my head and what lies outside that. I still need to attend to the details of my life. There will always be a need to "cut wood and carry water." Ultimately, I am empowered to live my life, which arises from the intersection of the clarity of the vision I hold for my life and the grace and illumination I receive from the mystery that lives all things.

Amidst the chaos and uncertainty of life, I remain open to Grace and the gift of my life.

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