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Innocent til proven guilty

December 17, 2010

I go to the 25-cent-a-gallon water store because I am far too superior a person to drink water from those little plastic bottles and wreck the environment BECAUSE I CARE ABOUT THE CHILDREN, unlike some of you people.

No, really I buy water by the gallon because
1. It is cheap and I am cheap
2. I always have 10 gallons of water on hand in case of earthquake. It’s California, people.

So there I am, waiting for this woman to get done filling her bottles and she has all different sizes and shapes, quite a few bottles. She’s shuttling them back and forth to the car and I’m just standing there, not even sighing or rolling my eyes even though she is taking forever, because I’m really cool like that.

She finally gets done, I assume, but I’m not 100% sure because of all the shuttling and whatnot, so I ask “All done?”

She turns to me with Eyes of Fury® and says in a menacing Eastern European kind of accent “Yes. Yes. NOW I am done.” She gets in her car and slams the door, hard.

I was taken aback. I wasn’t saying “You crazy-looking slow wench who is wasting my whole night waiting for you, are you ALL DONE?”

Rather, I was TRYING to say “All done? Because I am an extremely polite person who would never, ever want to butt in on your important bottle filling.”

One of my favorite A Course in Miracles lessons says:

“You stand beside your brother, thorns in one hand and lilies in the other, uncertain which to give. Join now with me and throw away the thorns, offering the lilies to replace them.”


One of the most maddening things in life is to make an offer in kindness, and have the receiver assume it is malicious.

Some of the biggest fights I have had with exes were over this. I thought I was buying the right kind of toilet paper because my kind was cheap and lasted a long time and he thought I was being an inconsiderate jerk and trying to exfoliate his tenderest parts with cardboardy toilet paper, so we ended up screaming at each other in the supermarket parking lot. Nice.

The other day someone complained on Twitter that the other PTA moms never expected the working-outside-the-home moms to bring cookies, just cups and plates. They said the PTA moms were “mean.”

Flip the coin over and assume innocence. Offer some lilies instead of thorns. Just maybe the PTA moms were trying to reduce the time burden on women they knew were pressed for time? Wouldn’t that be better?

Assuming that people are behaving from innocence is a good way to live because you’ll be right about 95% of the time and people appreciate it if they see you seeing them in a good light.

You might get fooled every once in a while, but hopefully your Spidey sense will kick in at those rare moments.

Thorns or lilies? Take your pick.

PS Only I can incorporate toilet paper into a Deep Spiritual Lesson®. Also? I know those are irises, not lilies, but those are pretty ones, huh? I bought the tubers for my mom and she made them grow.

  1. December 18, 2010 05:43

    I totally get what you are saying, and I fail at the kindness thing more times than not. I suscribe to the rule “Don’t take anything personally” and it works. The trouble is that my brain doesn’t instantly remember this rule. I’m trying to get my brain to remember it BEFORE I assume the person behind me in the taco line isn’t intentionally hitting me with her purse.
    It’s hard.

    • December 18, 2010 12:24

      Oh, yeah. Plenty of times I hand out the thorns and then have to try to take them back…

  2. December 18, 2010 08:37

    Lillies is a nice way to live. I’ve only recently learned to do it the majority of the time. Now, if we can’t just make our fellow socalians learn it too….

    • December 18, 2010 12:23

      People are generally so grateful when you see them as innocent, struggling beings. We all like to be given the benefit of the doubt.

  3. December 18, 2010 09:06

    I’m having a rather crabby morning and really needed to read this. I am going to try very hard to keep this lesson in mind until my attitude improves.

    • December 18, 2010 12:22

      When the student is ready, the teacher appears. Or something.

  4. jillian permalink
    December 18, 2010 12:30

    I am a big fan of assuming the best possible motive consistent with the facts you have. It makes a big difference in the assumer’s attitude as well as relationships. Actually I think this is one of the very big elements in a good marriage and good relationships with one’s children.

    And if you can’t bring yourself to actually believe the best, it’s often helpful to -act- as if you believe the best about someone. It’s a much nicer way to ask someone to do something and you’re much more likely to get them to do what you want -and- retain a good relationship. Even if you secretly think they are just being mean/lazy/spiteful.

  5. December 18, 2010 13:28

    also, when they are handing you thorns and you assume lillies, it usually drives them nuts – so you win. 😀

    (i just completely jumped the point, didn’t i?)

    also? i LOVE those iris!! what variety are they? i must have some.

    • December 18, 2010 13:28

      so now you’re moderating me? what’d i say??

      • December 18, 2010 14:37

        Not as far as I know. I don’t think you CAN be moderated LOL.

    • December 18, 2010 14:38


      It has been about 15 years since I gave those irises to mom. They didn’t bloom for about the first 10…and I can’t remember what they are called. Though it may have had something to do with peacocks or pirates in the name…

      • December 19, 2010 09:03

        you are not helpful. maybe i’ll just come steal yours. 😛

        and no, i’m not easily moderated. bwahahahaha!

  6. December 20, 2010 09:44

    I have never seen blue bearded irises before. Magnificent.

    • December 20, 2010 14:12

      I hate to spoil the illusion, but in real life they are more purple. I don’t know what happened in the photo.

  7. December 20, 2010 11:22

    Very nice post. I agree, and I think I usually do a pretty good job at giving lilies, and even awesome irises like these.

    Although. Sometimes, when I feel especially wronged, I give the silent treatment along with a block of ice. That’s almost as bad as thorns, I know.

    Okay. I need to go think about all this now!

    • December 20, 2010 14:12

      Oh, I can passive-aggressive with the best of them too!

  8. December 20, 2010 18:32

    Such a good lesson. I can’t hear/read it enough.
    And irises and lilies are my favourites!

    • December 20, 2010 21:52

      There was a place up in San Luis Obispo county that had hundreds of varieties of Irises in all different colors from pure white to solid black. It was amazing to visit during bloom time.

  9. December 28, 2010 08:39

    Big, huge lesson I’m trying to keep in mind when dealing with my sibling. We are both so quick to assume the other meant ill. Thanks for the reminder.

    • December 28, 2010 09:02

      You’re welcome. The more reminders the better, because I forget all the time, too.

  10. nec permalink
    December 31, 2010 14:26

    Catching up on some reading… I really needed to hear this – today the eve of a new year. Thanks!

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