Blooms & Blunders
An Ode to Seattle in Springtime.
Seattle is gorgeous in springtime and its people are like ants at a picnic. Everyone comes out to enjoy the feast of sunshine and flowers. Each year, I try to photo document the rainbow of colors that bloom in my neighborhood. I take pictures of the pink and purple hyacinths, the white and yellow daffodils, the jewel toned sapphire and ruby primroses, the pink cherry blossoms, the magenta crocuses, and the nearly transparent paper whites.
Tulips haven’t bloomed yet, but when they do, there isn’t a color in the world that a tulip can’t carry.
Yesterday was one of those delightful days of spring when the sun shone through the buds on trees and everyone was out walking and talking and drinking coffee. I strolled merrily to work with my headphones on and my iPhone out ready to snap pictures of any color I hadn’t yet collected. I was primed and ready to photograph a patch of brilliant yellow daffodils I spotted in a corner raised bed by the stop light. I took note of a few people around that I would have to make sure didn’t get caught in my picture. I noticed two women, in particular, who were walking toward me for whom I would need to pause. As I approached the corner, I tripped on a root-bumped sidewalk and rolled my ankle. Then I lost my balance and heaved forward sloppily trying not to drop my phone or my purse and stumbled right foot, left foot, right foot with my chin jutted out for balance and did the trickiest don’t-fall-and-wreck-yourself dance. I felt like Sven slipping on the ice in the trailer for the popular Disney movie “Frozen.”
When I caught my balance and collected myself, I smiled and said “Whoa!” out loud acknowledging to the world the sentiment of “Yes, I just did that, folks!” I looked up anticipating the gaze of the two women walking toward me, but instead, they moved over farther on the sidewalk and both looked down as they walked past. I think they imagined my embarrassment and didn’t want me to feel shame over their seeing my blunder. However, I realized in that brief moment of their averted gaze that I had actually wanted them to join me by acknowledging what happened. I wanted them to say something like “Are you okay?” or “Wow! That was a close one,” or “I’ve done that before.” Even a smile and a chuckle would have meant that I wasn’t completely alone in my embarrassment.
After I recovered from my near tumble, I wondered what I do with other people’s mistakes, accidents, or embarrassments. Do I meet them in the midst of their awkwardness, or do I look away? Am I afraid I will add to their embarrassment if I address an accident? Will I feel guilty by thinking I’m hurting their feelings in naming what has happened? In my avoidance, am I missing an opportunity to offer empathy, kindness and compassion?
I’m not sure how I want to address these kinds of situations when they happen to others. However, one thing I can rule out is extending pity. I don’t think that would be helpful at all. Pity puts me in the position as someone that never blunders and addresses the other as a “poor little thing.” Instead, I think I’d like to name reality by acknowledging that something awkward did just happen. But I’m not sure exactly how that would sound.
In any case, I know that yesterday, I wanted someone to laugh with me. And I will keep that desire in mind next time I witness a blunder like mine. What would you do for others in an embarrassing situation? What would you like others to do for you? Let us know in the comment section below.