At a social gathering over the weekend, in which MayBelle was not, by a long shot, the oldest person in the room, she was asked this question:
“What did you do in your former life?”
Granted, the questioner appeared to be younger than MayBelle, maybe even by fifteen years or so if she were to speculate. MayBelle was taken aback, which is not her favored position. Quickly she realized the woman assumed she was retired. Or capable of having past lives, maybe living in alternate universes.
“I’m still living that life,” said MayBelle, who is pretty good at thinking on her feet, even if those feet are clad in sensible, low-heeled shoes these days. MayBelle is not exactly sure what she meant by that response, but she was trying to give as good as she got. Quite frankly, she found the question well, rude. And misguided.
As MayBelle began to talk about her work in the world, what gives her life, she could see that the questioner was not really all that interested. Just as MayBelle was getting to the good stuff, the part about her belief that it’s the sharing of our stories that saves us, the woman zoned out. Maybe she was looking for someone who had a more scintillating former life.
The encounter reminded MayBelle how important it is not to make assumptions about people. She’s guilty of it herself, although she tries to be careful. More often than not, whenMayBelle has made assumptions, she’s been wrong. And MayBelle hates to be wrong.