So I was at a party and an old acquaintance came up to me and we were talking. He said something to the effect of "Nice party" and then dropped this bomb on me, "After all, you can always judge a person by their friends."
I was swept back to a beautiful day at the Gwinganna spa in Australia, where I got up the courage to attend a class called Dance As Play (or something weird like that). We spent a lot of time discussing how hard it is to move with pleasure in this world because of all the judgment out there, and how the most important thing to truly enjoy and live life fully is to get beyond that feeling of being judged. Or worse yet, of judging ourselves. And then we danced! It was so lovely and precious, and we were strangers and it didn't matter. I wanted to hold that precious feeling of freedom in my heart forever.
Back to the party. The acquaintance is one of those "pillars of society" white-male nice guys. The kind of guy who has lots of important friends. I am not judging him! But I couldn't help but judge myself for an instant. Who are my friends, and how would people judge me by them? I thought of the odd mix of my 1,500 or so Facebook friends, many of whom I've never met and some of whom I've grown to love even though I've never met them or have hardly met them. The truth is I'm kind of a loner, partly because I don't like that whole thing of people wanting to be my "friend" because of my potential to give them a job, donate money, or get a family member a job. Let's just say I've developed some armor around that whole thing--which is why I avoid that whole "pillar-of-society" circle as much as possible.
But I really try not to judge, mostly because I hate to be judged. Judging others seems to be at the root of so much that's wrong in this world. We judge based on religion, sexuality, clothing, taste in music (OK, I'm guilty of that one--sorry!), where people vacation or go to school, what job they have, their race, for sure! The older I get and the more I study people and human nature, the more I learn that people are where they are for their own reasons and they are on their own path. It's not better or worse, just different.
What if we all stopped judging for a while?
My personal view (please don't judge me!) is that God wants to see us all grow and evolve and love more, not less. If God gave us a set of rules to begin with, it was so we could find the courage to break those rules and learn for ourselves what's important. One of the things I love most about Jesus is he hung out with just about anyone. Saints and sinners, losers and winners, whores and gamblers, and lost souls (as Bruce Springsteen sings in "Land of Hope and Dreams"). But don't go thinking I'm a Christian, because I'm not. As I said to a born-again friend of mine a while ago, I believe in everything. I don't think she liked that, but we are still friends on Facebook.
Here's a quote from a tweet that popped up on Twitter as I was writing this--it's by Neale Donald Walsch, an author I respect: "Judgment has no place in a loving heart."
So, take a break from Judgment Day. Try a Non-Judgment Day. See what's different and if it matters. Constantly judging others and ourselves is exhausting. If we all give judgment a break, we all might just have a lot more fun!
We might even dance!
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.