In a previous post, I mentioned having our first experiences with medical facilities in Maui. The Kihei Wailea Medical Center is nice. Convenient, too. I don't just mean in location. It's a comprehensive facility. Need imaging? It's right there. Need a prescription filled? Right there. Need to see a specialist? Down the hall. Need labs done? Have a seat, we'll be with you in a moment.
I've not been to medical facilities everywhere. I found myself wondering if this is how it works in most places. I'm used to the Midwest way of doing things. Internists and specialists are rarely located in the same office. Imaging in another building across town. Lab orders often felt like a scavenger hunt. If you found the facility, it would likely be weeks before you had results. Here? Come in on a Friday afternoon and your results are in on Monday. We'll get you scheduled for imaging means we'll call you in a couple hours and your appointment is tomorrow. Perhaps we were lucky. Perhaps this is just how things work when the population of the entire island is only 1/12th the population from which you came. The reasons behind the divergence from what we knew as norm are unclear.
What was clear, however, was the difference in experience. It was quiet. Very quiet. We weren't greeted with some form of "what do you want?" or the more polite "how can I help you?" We've all experienced the former greeting, I'm sure. I've always thought of it as off-putting, but just a part of life. Ignore and move on. The latter greeting is one in which I've not only used, but also one in which I've never put much thought. Someone approaches you, it's knee-jerk. Like saying "fine" when asked how you are. It's just what you say.
But what is it really saying?
Isn't it just a polite form of the more abrupt greeting? Isn't it really just subtly conveying that we are busy people doing busy people things and when approached it's an inconvenient interruption? We have experienced neither greeting since we arrived. The first question to answer when we interact with others here is simple - how are you?
Respect is not just a behavioral option here. It's a way of life. Respect for each other. Respect for the land. An acknowledgement that we are all in this big wide world together and we all need to do our part. I'm sure, for some, this sounds like a hokey, hippie-esque, way of seeing our own role in society. At one point, I probably would have seen it in the same way. Until I saw it translated into daily life. What does it look like?
It's a packed, but almost silent, medical facility. The posted signs aren't only pleas to turn off your cell phone. They are reminders to respect your fellow patients. The local restaurants, abuzz with lively conversation, don't have patrons unnecessarily yelling their innermost thoughts at the person seated next to them. If the decibel level is elevated, it's the local musician sharing his talent. We aren't walking around in some silent reverence here. But there is a focus on consideration of how our own behavior may impact the next guy.
It's easiest to absorb how others are impacting us. It's not always a first reaction to consider how we may be impacting others. Because we know our own intentions. How often we forget our intentions are not always explicit. Ever found yourself in a misunderstanding uttering defenses that your intentions were not what the other party assumed? We all have. We're also most likely guilty of concluding facts based on our own assumptions of someone else's intentions. But it's not like these assumptions come out of thin air. Especially when interacting with someone close to us, assumptions are often informed by past behavior. Isn't it safe to assume past may be prologue?
I never think it safe to assume. That does not mean I don't do it. It means I have to continuously remind myself one of the most beautiful parts of being human is our ability to adapt and change. Sure, we may find that our natural assumptions prove true. But it is our best moments, when our humanity is most unguarded, where people really shine. Assumptions can take an opportunity to see this beauty and shroud it in our own preconceived notions.
How we decide to perceive the world dictates our experiences in it.
How we chose to interact with others dictates our experiences with them. Less focus on ourselves creates a better environment for all. A peaceful waiting room in a sometimes stressful environment. An enjoyable dining experience with friends. A better day in a better place in a better world. And all it takes is a little consideration of an alternative perspective.