Years ago, I dated a crazy person. I realize this in retrospect; although to be fair, my friends realized it at the time (Go, friends!) He and I would frequently fight because he was crazy and I am not. This dichotomy actually leads to a lot of differences of opinion.
One day as we were arguing, undoubtedly about something like whether or not one should d
rink kerosene or chew glass, he threw his hands up in frustration and shouted, “My God, you’re just RELENTLESS!” Cue me smiling. Now, my ears work perfectly well; I know for a fact he used the word “relentless”. He also called me “God”, but we won’t go there.
I heard the word “relentless” but my mind understood the word
“persistent”. Yes, by gum, I AM
persistent! One of my many
super-powers! I didn’t even break up
with him that day, that is how gosh darned persistent I AM!
Yes, he was a writer. Clever fellow, he was. Full of sarcastically deriding bon mots.
Anyhow, I was delighted by this description! He had meant to shame me, but instead I polished up what he said and put it on my trophy shelf because WOW! What a gift to be able to sincerely accept and appreciate other people’s respect and esteem.
I once pestered Mandy Patinkin in a NY restaurant, vomiting my love and admiration all over the poor man and excused my behavior by saying I decided it would be okay to interrupt his dinner because I always love when people tell me they think I’m wonderful. To which the great Mr. Patinkin replied, “Miss…I think you’re wonderful!” Holla, Mandy!
Truth be told, I love compliments and I love complimenting others. If you are wearing a flattering color, new hairstyle or spiffy attitude, I am going to tell you about it. If you have strengths I admire, or good taste, or a kind heart, I will not let that slide by without a comment. I live to notice what is wonderful about you!
Which leads me to yet another insulting compliment: when I was in college, I was with a group of friends perusing some newly developed photos (yes, I went to college a LONG time ago.) In one of the pictures I was sitting next to a nice young man I barely knew and my friend Joseph laughed at me, saying “You are looking at him like you are in love with him”. To which another friend replied, “Kara looks at EVERYONE as if she were in love with them.” Judging from her tone, this was NOT meant as a compliment.
Her intent be damned, I took it as a compliment!!! In fact, to this day it is one of the most amazing “compliments” I have ever received. I truly hope that one day I will be able to look at every single person on earth as if I AM in love with them! Wouldn’t that be incredible!?
Right now I am still focused on doing it full time with the people I actually love, and extending this gaze part time to people who don't deliberately aggravate me or try to shred my soul. Occasionally I’ll catch myself doing it to a perfect stranger…someone whose dearness catches my eye in some way. It probably sounds corny, but looking at people as if you are in love with them feels really, really good. The only negative? It can be a bit draining to be mooning around after folks all the time.
Which brings me to the final “insulpliment” I will share with you: I was speaking one day with a neighbor who looked increasingly aggravated with my description of all the running around I do to keep in close touch with my friends and family. She shook her head, rolled her eyes and said, “It just must be exhausting to be you”. Now, I’m not dumb. I realize what she meant was, “Sucks to be you”.
But it doesn’t, actually. It IS, however, often times exhausting, and I appreciated the acknowledgment of that, however grudgingly offered. We all know there is good tired and bad tired, and extending yourself to spend time with people you love is a really good tired. If I am not busy using my energy, resources and super-powers to engage with others, then why am I here?
The older I get, the more I understand that our time here is short, and is best used to love each other deeply and abidingly. So why waste your time insulting me? Think of how annoyed you’ll be when I’m not insulted. Why not go ahead and try a compliment instead?