Teachable moments. Those little slices of life where something went sideways, someone did or said something they shouldn't have, and it's an opportunity to teach (or learn) something important about the situation and use that to (hopefully) learn a better way to react or respond in the future. Parents have about 82 trillion of these moments as their kids grow up. Every day a new adventure and all we can do is hope and pray they take these moments and what we've taught them and it helps them to become a wonderful, respectable adult.
But there are teachable moments for all of us, every single day. No matter if you're a parent, single, young or old. Most of the time we just rush through our day and don't even take notice of them. In today's insta-world we are bombarded with things that demand our attention on such a fast paced level that we don't notice these moments when they happen, and sometimes miss them completely.
I've been thinking a lot about these kinds of moments lately.
I thought about this yesterday as I read my friend Andrew's blog about his hippie friend Scottie who recently passed away. Andrew mentions how him and his friend Scottie were about as different as night and day and didn't really see eye to eye on many things, but it was only after his passing, that he realized he'd never have the chance to let him know how grateful he was for his friendship, despite their differences. This is a very common thought when someone we care about passes on. But no matter how common it is, that never takes away how personal and anguishing it is. We all wish we could express more appreciation for those we care about while we have the chance but then life does what life does, and we become busy and get side-tracked and before you know it, ten, twenty or thirty years have passed and we're looking back at those lost opportunities wishing we would have said or done more. Sometimes I think we beat ourselves up far too much about those things and forget that we can't be Super Human and super awesome every single day of our lives. It's just not going to happen. I think it matters far more what kind of person we are, and not so much how many opportunities we missed.
I thought about it again as I read my various tweetdeck columns on various topics: Christian, World News, Public Opinion and a criminal case I'm following that is live tweeted each day by several reporters. Yes, I know how strange that sounds but this is the world we now live in.
I have been increasingly frustrated with a number of people I once admired, as I've watched them come out publicly again and again, in support of Donald Trump. No matter what the man says, or doesn't say, no matter what he does, or what others around him do (that he supports), no matter how vulgar, rude, disrespectful, their defense and support of him remains strong. Not only that, his rudeness and disrespect is mirrored in the things many of his supporters say and do, and for me that's been a real teachable moment. It's not that he's influenced them, it's that this is who they were all along, and I just never really saw it. Somewhere in the back of my thoughts I hear Procol Harum's Whiter Shade of Pale "and although my eyes were open, they might just as well been closed".
It's an unsettling feeling. Sort of like finding out one of your favorite people is a wife-beater, or hates kittens and puppies or babies. They're still the same person you thought you knew, you're just seeing those "warts and all" people talk about when they're describing a person's character. I guess we all have those warts, but they're never pleasant to see. While I follow all sorts of people on various social media platforms I don't agree with (the follow is simply to see where they're coming from and why), it's the ones I don't agree with but still manage to keep it classy and respectful, that have remained on my various feeds. All the others? And there have been many of them... they're gone.
If I've learned anything this presidential election year, is that I have zero time and zero skills for dealing with nasty, rude, intolerant or disrespectful people. They may be someone else's mission field, but they're definitely not mine.
And I'm okay with that.