Juxtapose this.


One day, as I was driving along with my two kids, I was suddenly filled with the need to rhapsodize about their gifts.

“Oh, Amanda!” I gushed. “What I wouldn’t give to have your intellect! You don’t realize what a gift you have, being equally smart in math and verbal skills. Most of us are only good at one of these, but you, my darling, have the rare ability of being able to compute and communicate with equal facility. I am in awe!”

“And you, my Alex! You have the one gift I coveted more than any other… the ability to sing! What’s more, you have natural ability to act. What many of us struggle to acquire, you were born with; those of us without your gifts could never come up with the nuances you exhibit on stage. God made you a performer!”

Amanda, who was riding in the front seat, turned around to her brother.

“She just called me untalented.”

Her brother piped up. “What are you complaining about? She just called me stupid!”

They can be such creeps.

Why do people do this? Juxtapose their talents against those of the people around them, and they suddenly see nothing other than imagined deficiencies.

On the other hand, if you juxtapose their deficiencies, they don’t automatically start seeing their talents. If I’d said to them, “You, Child ‘A,’ are stubborn, and you, Child ‘B,’ are lazy,” neither of them would have responded with, “she called me ‘open-minded,’” or “she called me ‘industrious.’”

We look for derision in praise, but we don’t find the praise in derision.

Maybe it’s something we should start doing.


3 thoughts on “Juxtapose this.

  1. I have put a lot of time and effort — and one novel — into trying to tell people that a lifetime of achievement is not canceled by one failure. That getting let go from a job after more than 30 years of “doing it right” doesn’t change the success. Kids do it. Adults do it. The young, the old, and those in the middle make the ONE bad thing in their lives the most important thing. It doesn’t need to be like that.

    I guess it is because the negative has more clout than the positive. Good stuff creeps up on you, but bad stuff knocks you to the ground and breaks both legs.

    Liked by 2 people

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