When I was a young adult, I never suffered from seasonal allergies, and privately thought that all those people who complained about high pollen counts and their allergy symptoms were just being a bit whiney. Now that I am the one with a runny nose, itchy eyes, endless sneezing and a sore throat each Spring and Fall, I really regret that attitude.
Before I had kids, I found mothers who used loud, sing-song voices (“Look at those red, shiny apples!! Shall we buy the red, shiny apples for our lunch?”) when they spoke to their young children in public places annoying, and I had nothing but disdain for parents who couldn’t get their kids to behave properly at stores and restaurants. I also refused to be in the same room with any child who had a snotty nose, at least until someone wiped it properly. Then I had my own kids. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say I got over my tendency to judge other parents very, very quickly. And I became way too familiar with tempter tantrums, snotty noses and other gross body fluids.
Years ago, I had my own dogs trained to go into the back yard to do their business before I took them for a walk, because I was never going to be one of those people I saw walking down the sidewalk with their dog’s leash in one hand a full bag of dog poop in the other. I would never, ever do something that gross. Now, of course, I walk a couple of dozen shelter dogs every week, and I almost always have to pick up their poop in a plastic bag and carry it until I find the nearest trash can.
It’s amazing how a few decades of living can change our perspective. It’s so easy to judge people who are going through things we have never experienced and to smugly assume that, even if we ever do have to deal with their issues, we will handle them so much better. And to blithely declare what we will never do, or what we will always do, while we’re still young enough to believe it.
If there is one thing that middle age has taught me, it is that karma can indeed be a bitch. I’ve been proven wrong about how well I will handle a particular situation or where I will draw a personal line in the sand so many times that I can’t even keep count anymore.
Thankfully, I am much less willing to make those kinds of judgements these days. I’m much humbler now, and I understand how little I can predict both what is in my future and how I will react to it. Also, I am fully aware that karma is still out there, and I have finally learned not to tempt it.