In the last few years, my gaze on life gravitates toward the more intense. To balance this side of my personality, I attend concerts. This activity tempers the intensity of my lens.
A few months ago I attended a Beyonce concert at a local venue in town.
As soon as I entered the auditorium, I smelled a mixture of frozen pizza and beer. The crowd bordered on eclectic. Women with gold mini-skirts and men with their skinny jeans added character to the classic all black clothing mix. There were a few women dancing and singing classic hits by Beyonce. The atmosphere edged on fun and flamboyant. The energy bordered on upbeat to happy to, of course, loud.
I approached my seat and scanned the crowd. In one corner, a pair of twins donned identical red t-shirts and were swinging their hips and hands in unison. A few rows down a young couple held hands and looked straight ahead. On one side of me a woman typed on her iPhone, while her companion laid her head on her shoulder. In front of me, a group of women started dancing. During the lull between Beyonce appearing on stage, they sang their own rendition of her hits. They stepped to the left and to the right and waved their hands as if they were standing in their bathroom showers. One particular woman embraced her inner dancing queen and joggled her body in ways that only made sense to her. At one point, she turned around and told the audience behind her “Don’t judge. I am just having a good time.” She resumed her regularly scheduled programming.
I appreciated this stranger’s candor. Perhaps she felt the eyes of various people whispering under their breath, “What is she doing?” I found her words refreshing since she stated a truth so much of us want to say out loud in surround sound to those who hardly know us to the people who are intimately familiar with the details of our lives.
We are all guilty of applying our own life experiences to others. It can range from the foods we eat to how we parent to the car that we drive to the clothes we choose to wear to the decision to drink or not drink to the way we interact with other people and to how we make assumptions based on what is said and unsaid. I’ve learned that the truth lies in what is unsaid. Every decision or presentation or appearance masks a back story. That is the story that people, unless they are comfortable with vulnerability, tend to leave out. That is the point where others tend to fill-in-the blanks. More often than not, if you learned the real truth, you may also uncover how wrong you were to assume whatever you chose to believe about the situation.
This chance encounter with the lady dancing served as a fresh reminder that I sometimes fall prey to the judgments that I make. Even if they are silent words I only whisper to myself, I cast a net on that person’s choices when I really have no right to do so.
To the dancing lady. I will always remember your two words. Don’t judge.