In the deep void of my memories, I can still blatantly see the yellow poster placed conveniently above our American flag that contained the words that would come back to me almost every day of my life. “Do unto others as you would like done unto you”- the ever so famous Golden rule. From kindergarten on, we are taught this rule and to be tolerant of each other, as well as learning how to walk in a single file line and take naps during school hours. Well, the last two mentioned may be virtually useless to us now, but I always try reminding myself in any social situation to put myself in the other person’s shoes. I believe in order to live fully, one has to understand or at least try to conceive what that any other person feels, thinks, or does.
This consideration was brought upon me in a strange way. Sometimes, when my arguments with my mother would get very vehement, I would wonder if she ever tried to see things my way. However, it was some what hypocritical of me since when I did try to see things through my mothers eye, I either dismissed it as some sort of middle-aged blasphemy or something that was not as important to my being. My relationship with my mother was not that smooth, notably when I turned seven when I began piano lessons. Once my feelings reached zenith, and tensions were high, something drastically changed the way I saw life and what important things to my being were.
Mother had a stroke and was put in the Intensive Care Unit. The first night at the hospital I was still stubborn, so was my mother. We talked very little, for it was getting dark and I was tired. The next morning mother could not communicate to us what she was feeling. What she was thinking. What she wanted to do. All throughout the arduous task of dealing with one of the strongest figures in my life being relegated to a such feeble entity, I began to realize the concept of putting one self in another persons shoes. Suddenly everything in that small room had to be dealt with in a way that would not disturb or annoy my non-responsive mother. I do not think many people know how hard just a thing is.
What was even more challenging was making funeral arrangements. Because I was the only child of my mother, and since she never really left the house, I had the responsibility of choosing everything for her. To try to see everything in a dead persons eyes, I think, is much more meaningful than that of a living person. Reason being a dead person doesn’t feel, think or do anything anymore, and never will ever again. Putting yourself in a vivacious body’s shoes gives you so much more insight and feedback so that there is a transaction of feelings, thoughts and acts. Even though I did not like the shoes my mother had, it helped me keep her memories fresh in my recollections. We didn’t always see things eye-to-eye, but we could still see into each other’s eyes.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and wonder why they’re doing something you don’t like. Why their saying things you disagree with. It’s not wrong to see things in gray, even if the shade is darker or lighter. What I believe society has to do is think of each other and what your contra part is thinking. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes, even if there are rocks in them.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.