E Pluribus Unum
“It’s so windy outside!” I said entering the kitchen, heaving the grocery bags on the counter.
My husband retorted, “No, it’s not.”
At his remark, my whole body clenched, as if someone had lobbed a grenade at me. I bellowed, “The trees are shaking and the wind blew something in my eye! What do you mean it’s not windy?”
“I was out there and it’s not windy,” he replied.
Wrong answer! Red hot anger roared in my head, echoing the sound of the wind whipping through the branches. He denied and dismissed what I experienced. This reminded me of the times when I would complain about getting bug bites. He said that I was imagining that, even though my skin was inflamed. Okay, he may dismiss my physical irritation, but how can he dismiss the objective evidence of the branches rattling wildly in the wind and leaves being spun around the driveway?
“Go outside and see for yourself!” I demanded.
He obliged, reappearing a few minutes later and saying, “It’s windy now.”
My chest still felt tight and I wanted to hit something but instead I said, “Even though you had a different experience, you should not have denied my experience. I’m so mad at you!”
“I am sorry,” he said, and gave me a hug.
My anger melted. My body relaxed. Could I have reacted more diplomatically? Probably. I was glad I defended my truth, but now I wished I had been less driven by anger.
Later, in the shower, warm water washing away the rest of my stress, I reflected on this little episode of domestic disharmony. It reminded me of the different versions of truth people experience and describe, pushing people to opposite poles of the political spectrum. If I was so passionate in defending my truth of the weather, maybe it’s understandable that people are so passionate defending their beliefs in their political heroes.
Why was I so triggered earlier? When I’m relaxing in the shower, I’m centered and at peace, not asking others to validate my truth. I feel the water working its magic, helping me let go of bodily constrictions, conferring on me the space and grace to include the diversity of opinions of my family and community.
Letting go increases my capacity to form more inclusive connections in a loving community. The Latin motto ‘E Pluribus Unum’ engraved on US coins, popped into my head. It means ‘One from many’.
Maybe it’s time for all of us to discover how we can embody that ideal once again.
*Tee Ming Ooi is a member of our Ahiah Writers Group.