nicecollarOn our morning walk Lucy and I usually run into other dogs and people out on the trail. We say hi, each in our own way. I usually say something; Lucy sniffs butts. This morning we ran into a guy walking two dogs. Lucy was engaged in her usual greeting when I noticed the black lab had a CU collar on. Without much thought I said to the man, “Nice collar.” He smiled and replied, “Yeah, too bad they didn’t get it done the other night.” I smiled back and dumbly said, “Yeah.” The truth was I had no idea what he was talking about. I haven’t watched a single CU game all year. I didn’t go to CU and am not particularly a fan. I was kind of taken aback by the conversation. Why did I say that?

As I thought about the collar comment I was astounded. Being a huge Denver Bronco fan, I appreciate fans. I love seeing someone’s enthusiasm and excitement. This is one thing I really love about football. We all get to dress up and cheer together. It’s fun. I mentioned the collar because I loved that he loved CU. What was interesting to me was that he assumed I loved CU too. I don’t. I don’t not love CU. I want to be clear about that. I’m just not a huge fan. What I was saying to him was I love your love for this, not that I love it. This is what I found shocking. I think so often I look for things that I love in people. I look for me in people. WOW! I look at people and try to see myself. Interesting.

I think so often I want people to love what I love. I want people to love me the way I want to be loved. This is what I am looking for in them. I’m looking for my interests, my views, and my opinions. When I don’t see it I often make them wrong. I start to see what I view as faults and disappointments in them. “Why can’t you be who I want you to be?” I have seriously been showing up this way! How often do we all do this? Assessing people through a filter of who we think they should or should not be or how they should or should not behave. I have done this a lot.

What if I shifted my view? What if, instead, I looked for their positive aspects? What if more often I was looking for what they loved, what they believed, what they felt? I think only then could I really see them. I love people who are this generous with me, people who I can make mistakes with and be imperfect with who don’t hold it against me or judge me. With these individuals I feel safer and freer to be myself. I don’t have to try to be anything, I can just be. I know they are not seeing me through a filter of who I should or shouldn’t be. They just see me as me.

I’m not going to totally throw myself under the bus here. Sometimes I do this really well. Thinking about it, I do this extremely well with people who do this with me. I’m great at loving people who love me generously. But what about loving generously when I’m not getting what I want? That is when I’ve tended to shut down with people. What if I didn’t? What if I continued to love in the face of rejection? Hurt? Disagreement? What if I loved no matter what? Whether I got what I wanted or not? Sounds pretty freeing to me. What if I loved people just as they are? What if I let go of my own ideas of how or who they should be or not be? Again, then I could really see them and really love them– not my version of them. To me, this is incredibly inspiring.

Today I will go out into the world and love and listen generously. I might just see some pretty awesome collars out there!