walk lightly in the lives of others

What if for just once we all decided to go about our day only seeking, and sharing, positive messages? If we surrendered the snark and sarcasm, and treated this life not as our stage, but a gift. What if we spent more time thanking the people we love for being in our lives, instead of highlighting their faults? I wonder if we all spent just one day in this manner if it would become contagious. Or as human beings are we predisposed to find fault in our lives, and those of others?

I started reading Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, by Mark Epstein, again recently. This was an important book for M many years ago, when we were going through a rough patch. I think it was given to him, or recommended, by a friend, in his path towards trying to find some inner peace. I’ve yet to make it to the end of the book on this second attempt; my mind may be too set in its Western ways of thinking. Epstein’s emphasis on letting go of looking for answers, and just opening ourselves to the idea of acceptance, is something I don’t agree with, or maybe I just don’t understand it fully, yet.

His words have settled into my subconscious, though, and while I’m not yet capable of applying them to myself, they are obviously affecting the way I see others in my life. Last week I met C in Paris for a few days. We hadn’t talked in ten days, and hadn’t seen each other in two months. The lack of talking was simply because he doesn’t have a cellphone at the moment, and doesn’t see any immediate need to get one. I find it both charming and frustrating that he can disconnect from life so easily. In a way, there’s an old-time romance to it. My problem is that I carry the anxiety deep in my heart that it can all fall apart in an instant. As I walked around Saint Germain, collecting groceries for lunch, I had an epiphany—the key to loving him is to simply accept him “as-is”, and not try to figure him out. As I stood across the street from our apartment, conducting a social experiment of whether a car in Paris will stop for a pedestrian (the answer is no), someone sidled up alongside me, and began speaking in English. So bewildered, and excited to hear my mother tongue, I turned to see him standing right next to me. He had been waiting for me to get into the building since I had the only key. My heart fluttered, a smile washed over my face, and every fear that something happened to him was gone. Ever so carefree, he said “I told you I’ll always find you”, to which I shared my thoughts on the secret to loving him. His eyes lit up, and he said “you figured me out, my dear.”

So, maybe, just maybe, accepting what we cannot understand is the key to understanding it?


  • Anila

    The thing is everything can fall apart in an instant. The secret is to enjoy it now while you have it? Not easy to do.

    Wondered if romance was a part of the reason for the many trips to Paris in such a relatively brief span of time. How wonderfully exciting for you!

  • Liz

    I think our expectations of how others “should” act as well as our judgment of why others do or do not – get us in trouble in relationships: friendships, spousal, parent-child.

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the title of the post. It is going to be my mantra when I get frustrated by people.

    Thank you for the book link, also.

    It made me think of one of my own favorites: The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts.

    Happy Day, Jennie!

  • Miranda

    Offering love is always a wise choice. I am happy you have had those series of moments. Beautiful.

  • Heather

    I have read your blog for years and sat quietly with your words.
    I felt so compelled to let you know that the words you typed today were both timely and impactful.

    I am in the throws of a new love relationship that comes with its own “baggage” and my somewhat unrealistic set of expectations.

    So thank you for your raw and honest writing, and the detour it has forced my mindset to take.

  • Nancy Chapman

    Anxiety will slowly melt away as happiness prevails. You deserve happiness and that special smile.

  • Lu

    Lovely, Jennie. Very insightful …. and sweet. Come back to Chicago so we can raise a glass for any reason – or no particular reason.

  • Paige Phillips

    This post totally resonated with me today. As a teacher, I am always trying to understand why my students act the way they do. In the past few weeks, I’ve tried to deal with them “as is” without trying to figure them out. I can say that my mood (and theirs) has lifted. I think too often, we try to change people to the way that we expect them to be, instead of accepting them for who they are.

  • Taylor

    I love these words. They’re so insightful and touching. Sometimes acceptance is really the only path to understanding, which I’ve found in my own life as well. Even when it’s hard to love another and put aside your expectations, it really can be the one thing that saves your heart and theirs.



  • Barb W

    Ah, Jennie, how fortunate you are to have had this epiphany (the key to loving him is to simply accept him “as-is”, and not try to figure him out) at your age. Some of us don’t or didn’t “get it” until much later, or even too late for all practical purposes. If it is good today, not perfect, just good, be grateful for it and embrace it with all your heart.

  • Maria in NJ ~ Dolcelicious Bake Shoppe

    I have so many unanswered questions in my life…I would have loved some closure, it didn’t happen, so my hart is still broken in half, I think it always will be…I’m glad you have found love again…

  • Tracey A.

    Morning Jennie,
    I am happy you are able to share a simple and tender moment, with someone with like similarities. It is a calming thing to know that we can find some peace in a moment of turmoil, whether it is a moment or a minute. Don’t be afraid–your growth is amazing.
    Wishing you the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,
    Tracey A.

  • luisa

    Who is C???? I don’t think I have missed any of your posts and sorry if I sound surprised but who is C? When and how??? I know you don’t owe anyone anything…so feel free to ignore me. But being Italian..I have become very animated and I am yelling at my computer trying to get it to tell me what I missed with some hand gestures thrown in for good measure.

  • Cag

    I was looking for a good waffle recipe, and found your website. Beautifully written posts and great recipes.