While out to dinner with my partner this evening, I encountered someone who clearly has it all figured out. This gentleman at the next table - whom I will never know personally - appeared to be QUITE pleased with himself and all of his opinions (at least, outwardly.) So pleased, in fact, that his voice was unavoidably disruptive from the next table five feet away.
This man instructed his dinner companions where to sit, corrected others for what they "think" about the most benign topics and even instructed an employee on the appropriate way to wear her jewelry even though she explained it was due to food service rules.
The truth is, this man very likely has a good heart. He may be a great man, for all I know. But... from the outside-looking-in, he was pompous and entitled.
Instead of letting this man's actions drive me mad, I choose to let this experience help me think about who I want to be. Regardless of my actions in the past, I can influence who I want to be in the future. I don't want to my vision of the world to turn gray with my hair. I don't want to become so indoctrinated that I fail to listen to others. I do not want to be so fearful that I fail to grow.
I believe that regardless of how strong my belief systems, even the most personal truths can evolve and change. Even the most absolute of truths can expand and become more robust. I find it hard to believe that my value systems, goals and even my Faith, are fully developed at any age.
As long as I have breath, I am learning and growing. My understanding of God can become greater. My love for my partner, my family and friends can be enhanced. My goals can grow beyond anything I can fathom. I can strengthen my resolve for what I believe in and not discount the possibility that I will learn something new.
So, I am grateful for the close minded, self involved man at the next table tonight. He reminded me that it's okay to let people sit where they want at dinner. It's okay to let servers wear their jewelry wrong. It's okay to listen and embrace the perspectives of other people - even when I disagree strongly.
Continuing to evolve as a human being will not threaten my beliefs, it will help me understand what I truly believe in.