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A Tale of Two Ways

October 7, 2021

When I was in high school, we had to read “A Tale of Two Cities.” Upon completing the book, I was angry. I mean really, really mad. I’d just spent a week reading an entire book only to have **spoiler alert** the hero die at the end.

In fact, I was so upset, I stayed after class and told my teacher it was the worst book I’d ever read. She smiled at me, told me to think about it and said I should come back in a few days to discuss.

Well, in my righteous indignation, I did go away. And I did think about it. And then one evening, I just burst into tears. I’d changed my mind. “A Tale of Two Cities” was the best book I’d ever read. (It’s still in my top 5). I went back to my teacher to tell her so, and she said, “Yup. Now go write your paper.” 

To be honest, this is sort of how my life goes. I am not a person who can trust her first impressions. Ask two people who know this the best: my friend, Shea, and my husband, Joey. I didn’t like either one when I first met them. Now they are among the dearest people in my life.

I have a need to go away, process, and think about things before I react, write, or speak. I am a percolator. I am a sifter. I am a slow-cooker. In contrast, my husband is quick on his feet. He reads quickly, processes information quickly, comes to conclusions quickly. It’s why he is an excellent litigator. And in many ways, it’s why we make a good team. We’re our own “Tale of Two Cities”!

Our society loves speed. Our culture celebrates fast-twitch muscles, microwaves, sound bites, and Twitter posts. “Trust your gut” and “First impressions are right” are the go-to adages.

But the truth is that’s not always true. My gut often is silent. My first thoughts are often foggy or confused. My impressions come to me slowly. Sifting through my reactions and emotions take time. Because our society applauds the opposite, I’ve had to work hard at being comfortable with my slow-twitch self.

The truth is speed is not always where it’s at (to use the vernacular). Some of us are wired differently. And many things are about slowing it down: tai chi, meditation, good barbecue, lazy weekend mornings, slow dancing, the best kisses. And, yeah – you knew I’d go there – relationships. Friendships, marriages, families, even professional relationships all need time and space to grow and develop. It takes time to develop roots, discern patterns, and create mutual trust. 

Daoist philosophy states it takes 100 days to create a foundation. So, if you need a breath, a moment, or space? Take it. It’s OK. Go ahead and think it over. Change your mind. Trust your gut – even if it means not trusting your gut. 

After all, you can’t have a “Tale of Two Cities” with only one city, with only the best of times, with only hope, with only light.

There is more than one way to be in the world.

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