The fly seeks filth, the bee seeks honey. I will shun the habit of the fly and follow that of the bee. I will refrain from finding faults in others and look only for the good which is in them.
Hindu Monastic Vow
When my older daughter was in pre-school I made a very close friend. We often got together with the children and shared the ups and downs of motherhood and balancing a career. Most of all we shared a lot of laughter. After a few years of really enjoying each other’s company, we had a disagreement about a particular situation at the school. My friend got very upset and started to yell and scream at me. She even engaged in name-calling. We obviously saw the situation very differently but she acted in a way that I had never seen her act before. I tried to approach her several times about what happened, but we just ended up arguing again.
After a few weeks of feeling uncomfortable and hurt, I decided that I didn’t want a friendship with someone who could get angry so easily and attack me like that. I pulled away from the relationship. Our children were still friends and we were pleasant with each other, but for me it was not the same.
Months later, a mutual friend started to have real difficulty with her marriage and was heading for divorce. This friend of mine that had yelled and screamed at me was so kind and loving towards our troubled friend. I saw all of the kindness and generosity in her that I had witnessed during our best times together. We began to spend some afternoons with our mutual friend, laughing and enjoying ourselves like we had in the past. I realized that I had forgotten all of her beautiful qualities because I was so focused on the one I did not like.
So what happened here? I completely shut down when I didn’t like what I saw in my friend and turned my back on everything that was so wonderful about her. How often do we do this when we have a mishap with a friend or family member and we see something or a few things about them that we don’t care for? Maybe they disappointed us when we needed them, excluded us from a gathering or acted or said something hurtful to us. We harp and harp on what is wrong with others like flies looking for filth, instead of acting like the bees and finding the sweet and magnificent things about them.
I am not saying that the people in our lives are not responsible for their behavior or that we shouldn’t feel hurt, but Maybe we need to gain a larger perspective on our relationships. For some reason, my friend lost her cool that day and Maybe we would never agree on what happened. Yet, when I made the effort to look at who she is on the whole, I saw again that she is a wonderful human being whose friendship I really enjoy. I almost threw it all away because I saw one quality in her I did not like.
Maybe we can all spend some time today thinking about the special qualities of the people in our lives. There is a sweetness to the moments we share together when we are open enough to seek the good in people.