On Valentines Day and jury verdicts

To be honest, I don’t really need a reason to visit Wegmans. The grocery store is one of the happiest places on earth for me. Does that make me strange? Probably. But just add it to the list of my unique qualities and life perspectives. Still, yesterday I decided to make a trip to Wegmans after my swim workout to get a nice bowl of their homemade soup. That would be the thing to kick this lingering cold to the curb and rejuvenate my being. Only as I walked into the store I was hit with it: Valentine’s Day. The entrance was a sea of red, white and shades of pink. There were candy boxes everywhere and balloons and floral arrangements dotted the beginning of the produce department.

For a moment, my spirit sank.

I am without a Valentine this year. Not that I put much stock into the Hallmark holiday even when I was in a relationship. I’ve heard all the rhetoric about it being a made-for-consumerism holiday and how it doesn’t really mean anything. Still, Valentines Day can be one big reminder that yet again I failed to make a relationship work, one that I truly loved and cherished and respected. I moved quickly through the store, getting my soup and bananas and proceeding through the checkout process as fast as humanly possible. I think I held my breath the entire time.

Back in my car, I composed myself. I took in deep breaths. And instead of thinking about where I was lacking love in my life, I turned my focus to where I did have love in my life. I turned away from the narrow definition of love and instead made it big and broad and saw that there were plenty of places where I had love, if only I took the time to see it and appreciate it. And I thought about the old journalism rule about jury verdicts.

Yes, jury verdicts.

You see, there is no such thing as a verdict of “innocent.” People are found “guilty” or “not guilty” and there are important legal distinctions among those words. But newspapers traditionally will write that someone is “innocent.” Why? Because it’s too easy for people to read over the “not” part and only see the “guilty.” It also was easy in the old wire days for the “not” to get dropped from the copy.

Guess what? Same thing happens with my mind on pretty much any topic. If I say I don’t want to focus on what I don’t have … well, that’s an open invitation with bells and whistles for my mind to focus on the thing I don’t have. I don’t want to be last. My mind thinks “be last.” I don’t want to be lonely. My mind thinks “lonely.” I don’t to suck. My mind thinks “I suck.” See how that works? And I’ve learned that life moves toward where we put our focus. If I put my focus on slow, lonely and sucky then the universe is going to move me in the direction of slow, lonely an sucky. The universe is reading me a like a newspaper, and skipping over the “not” part.

And so on this Valentines Day, instead of thinking of the people I am missing from my life, I’ll think about the people I do have in my life. I have an amazing group of friends. They let me rant. They let me dream. They let me be myself without judgment. I have a fantastic family doing what families do best — drive me crazy and make me laugh at the same time. In fact, I’m pretty darn blessed with how much love I actually have in my life. It’s amazing what you can see when you open your eyes to what’s there instead of longing for what isn’t.

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