I like to think of myself as a positive person. I actively avoid negativism whenever I possibly can. I try to look for the twist of any situation that will allow me to accept it without judgement. And yet I’ve observed myself consistently sliding into the world of UN when it comes to role models.
That’s not to say that I don’t have the usual cadre of positive icons, each selected for specific traits that I aspire to. But on a day-to-day basis, I find the un-role models having a greater impact, and that might simply be because I see so many more of the negative ones than the positive. I see them everywhere – the grocery, the mall, restaurants, on the street. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing these people; I don’t even know them. I’m not judging them; there’s no point in placing them on a good to bad value scale. I don’t want to change them; I don’t have that kind of influence. Besides, I’m in no position to cast the first stone. And yet . . .
When I’m at the grocery and I see an overweight shopper leaning on their cart, I stand up taller. When I’m walking a mall and I see a similar aged person shuffling, I pick up my feet and step up my pace. When I see a similar aged person hunched over with obvious pain, I straighten my spine, lift my chin, push my shoulders back and keep my eyes looking forward. When I see an extremely overweight person eat an enormous plate of food, I slow my eating pace and save half my meal for left-overs. When I see driver after driver in oncoming cars with scowls on their faces, I smile.
A few years ago I remember sitting in an airport watching people. I particularly watched similar aged or older people. I observed as much as I could about them, and I would say to myself, “I’d like to be like that person when I get older” or “I don’t want to be like that person when I get older.” I found in a very short time that the people I want not to be like is far greater than those I would emulate.
I understand that there are many physical afflictions that people suffer from that cause them to walk, act, or move in certain ways, often painful ways. I understand for some there is little they can do about their physical being. And yet, in some perverted way, I guess I am thankful for their existence in my life. They have helped me be a better person. For now, at least, I am able to avoid letting my physiology be a limiting factor for my activity. I am blessed. And should the time come in the future, when I am no longer so blessed, I hope to also serve as the best possible UN-role model I can be.