January 30


A few days ago I ran into someone I really didn’t want to see. It was someone whose behavior was extremely hurtful to our family many years ago. I always joke that the universe should send us an email so we can mentally prepare for the dreary memories that will be dredged up by seeing hurtful people. At least I had the presence of mind to remember what an Episcopal priest friend who once said to me on this topic, “You don’t have to be friends with everyone. You just don’t want to have to cross the street to avoid anyone because it’s awkward. Take the high road.” I made polite but sincere conversation and skillfully ignored the elephant in the room not because I wasn’t tempted to scream, “What the HECK were you thinking?” but because I was thinking about having to cross the street the next time. I had the power in that moment to take the high road and be gracious, thereby easing the discomfort or to prolong the discomfort. The funny thing about not being gracious, as it is always portrayed on TV or in movies when the hero comes up with the perfect insult or zinger in revenge for past hurts, is that in the end it really doesn’t feel very good. It’s that crossing the street thing. It takes a lot more energy to be angry than it does to be gracious. Trust me. I’ve tried both. “Take care,” I said as we parted. As I walked away I thought, it’s always easier than you think it’s going to be.