I never thought of myself as an angry person. In my mind’s eye, I was easy-going, and definitely easy to get along with. My wife saw things another way. So, I concluded she must be out of her mind.
I wondered what was wrong with her. Why she could not see me the way I saw me.
When my children reacted to me in ways that indicated they saw me in the same way, I concluded they had been influenced by my wife.
In 1988 I was in the Cherry Grove community north of North Myrtle Beach, SC, enjoying the beautiful ocean and ample sunshine. I had placed my aluminum lawn chair in the sand just close enough to the water to have my feet bathed with each incoming movement of the tide.
As the minutes passed I noticed the water level not only covered my feet but began to rise higher and higher on my calves. Soon the water was almost to my lap, and the aluminum chair began to rock slightly with each wash of the tidewater.
I “knew where this was going,” and without even having to think about it I vowed to stay in my place and resist the rising waves; I was not going to give in until I had to do so. To be truthful, I sort of relished the challenge.
After a while the water was up to my chest, and I had to brace myself, digging my feet into the sand, the chair tipping dangerously with each movement of the tide; the ocean floor beneath my feet sinking, then washing out from under me.
It was at that crucial point that my brother-in-law walked up (at a safe distance, feet planted firmly on dry sand) and said those words which have stuck with me (and have been shared with countless others):
“Oh, I get it! You’re right, and the ocean’s wrong!”
Pay attention to the words, and especially the actions, of loved ones and others around you. They are remarkably reliable mirrors.
If the “tide” of their words and actions rises it is probably because they see something in you that needs attention.
When this happens, don’t stay in your “chair” too long. Get up!