Put Your Better Foot Forward

Yesterday, I was sitting in a cafe putting together my proposal for an art competition. Sitting in the middle of the cafe were three twenty-something American ladies and their two Jamaican (male) tour guides. Instead of being delighted that I was in the presence of some fellow Americans, I cowered at my corner table hoping not to be noticed or associated as "one of them".

Am I proud of my cowardliness and disassociation? No. Am I proud of the raukous behavior and  blatant ignorance that disrupted the otherwise serene atmosphere of the cafe? No.

Worse was when the ladies and their guides finally left and I was bombarded with the loud whisperings of the  other cafe patrons. (Some of whom were ex-pats like myself.) Both the local Jamaicans and the ex-pats were disgruntled as the stereotypes of the loud, ignorant and completely oblivious American were perpetuated.

I wanted to stand up and yell, "We are not ALL like that! We are not ALL like the Real Housewives of Jersey Shore (or insert other horrible reality TV show)." Or at least part of me wanted to stand up and yell that. Another part of me wanted to pretend to be Canadian...

When I left and got into my car, the radio station was playing classic American country music. Johnny Cash's voice filled my ears and warmed my heart. This is the America I love. The home and hearth mentality. The DIY movement. The back to the land revolution. The family matters state of mind. The Johnny Cashes and Martin Luther King Juniors and Abraham Lincolns and Wendell Berrys and Ina May Gaskins and Barbara Kingsolvers and Audre Lordes and Cornell Wests and Ira Glasses and the Barack Obamas and Corey Bookers and all the other fabulous Americans who have contributed in positive and progressive ways to the well being of human kind.

I found it interesting that I should be greeted with these two opposing views of America both the one I detest and the one I love nestled side by side in my day. It reminded me that we have a choice every day to put our better foot forward. We all have these two sides to us...our dark side and our light side. We are in control of which one we follow, which one we put into the public, which one we allow to guide us. Which foot are you leading with?

Peace and Wellness,

Photo Courtesy of  Brooke Woodside

“When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” 
― Wendell BerrySex, Economy, Freedom, and Community