I’m not sure if you are familiar with A.WORD.A.DAY, but it’s a great little service. Each day you get an email with a new word. The words usually have a theme of some sort. The theme for this week is words borrowed from German. I like German. I studied it briefly in high school. I like the sound of it. I like the logic of it. And of course we have some German ancestors. I love today’s word- weltanschauung (VELT-ahn-shou-oong)- which means world view; philosophy of life; a framework through which to interpret the world. The etymology of the word is even better: Welt (world) + Anschauung (perception).
I’ve long believed that it is not what happens to us in life that “makes or breaks” us. Rather, it is our perception of it, because our perception of events and circumstances is what triggers our response to them. Our perceptions are indeed the framework through which we interpret the world. If our basic philosophy is negative and defensive, then our actions will usually be negative and defensive. I’ve often observed this with parents. I can send home a note about some new requirement or an action I need them to take, and get a whole gamut of responses ranging from “Sure, no problem” to an irate phone call to the principal. Sometimes I find myself wondering “did they read the same note?” How could my words be interpreted so differently from my intentions? Then I’m reminded that I have to consider the negative viewpoint some people awaken with each morning.
Yesterday I observed a woman whose perception of the world must be quite different from my own. She walked into my doctor’s office just moments after we checked in. We were about ten minutes early for my appointment. She was apparently forty minutes ahead of schedule. I noticed her at first because she was a little “off balance”. Then it was impossible to ignore her because she was also very loud. “I’m early I guess,” she announced. “Does it matter if I’m early? I’m supposed to be here at 1:30.” The receptionist said that she was welcome to sit if she wanted. “No, I need to see the doctor. What does he DO after cataract surgery anyway? ‘cause I had it done yesterday morning and I’m just having all kinds of problems. I got this big black floater thing, and everything is pink. I’m talkin’ psychedelic pink! And yesterday I don’t know what was going on…I got the worst anesthetic nurse…I woke up screaming and my son was like ‘what was that about?’ I don’t know. But I can come back if you want.” The receptionist politely told her that only the doctor could answer her questions and that she was welcome to stay and they would get to her soon. She replied that she would be back, hurried out to her car, and roared out of the parking lot like she was being chased. Three things immediately leaped into my little brain: 1. I was told NOT to drive until after my follow-up appointment with the doctor, so obviously the woman isn’t real keen on following directions. If she had been forced by circumstances to drive herself, she would have been more cautious and would have stayed at the clinic rather than drive more. 2. If we had surgery the same morning, that means we had the same anesthesia nurse, since there was only one, and I thought he was kind, efficient, and professional. We were asleep before the surgery, for prep purposes, and awake for the actual surgery. So if the woman had indeed been screaming I would think they would have investigated the problem, solved it, and explained it to her before doing the surgery itself. I have every confidence that if the problem had been serious they would have postponed the surgery. 3. We were told that if we had ANY of a list of symptoms, or any unusual reactions we were to call the clinic immediately. I was given the phone number of the clinic and four doctors! (I even have my doctor’s cell phone number.) In addition to that admonition the clinic called me mid-afternoon to make sure I was okay and that I didn’t have any problems to report. So if that poor woman had problems, why didn’t she report them to someone immediately? I suspect that “poor woman” has a very negative perception of the world and sees herself as a victim, a role she feels obligated to dramatize. I also suspect she was drinking or taking something that impaired her judgment.
If I had more time I’d also tell you about the young woman who waited on us at Braum’s. Her weltanschauung was obviously “I hate my job so I might as well take it out on you”.
I’m just too happy to let people like that bother me for more than a few minutes. I hope you are mindful today of your own weltanschauung. If you want to see more exciting words go to Wordsmith and sign up.
Note: Yes, yesterday was our anniversary (38) and we had a great day! I took my wedding band to the jeweler’s to have it enlarged because I had so much trouble taking it off for the surgery. Gary had his resized a few years ago.