I came across a disturbing sight this evening as I approached the Forsaken Inn on the border of the Lone-lands. A group of young men… well, boys really, were fighting another boy who was rather badly hurt before the fight could be broken up. Afterward, we found out that the one boy had been teased and ridiculed by the others until he finally could take no more and lashed out in rage. Ashamedly, I was reminded of my own childhood.
You see, when I was a young girl, I was… well, quite a sourpuss myself. I loved to tease other children to make myself feel better, looking for any fault I could find in them. And how I loved to complain about something if I did not feel it was exactly how I wanted it! Who knows how many times I was on verge of driving my parents stark-raving mad? Especially my poor mother, whom I am sure I wore out.
It may have been why she succumbed to the Fever so quickly. When I was only ten years old she fell ill. Everyone thought she would recover easily, but she just got worse, until we knew we would probably lose her. She called me in to see her near the end, and we talked about everything. One of the things she said was, “Kaleigh, I want you to remember something. Whenever you start to tease somebody, find fault in someone, or complain about them in some way, I want you to remember this: ‘If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will’. A very wise man once said that, and it will help you change your attitude if you allow it.”
I am sure I looked at her quite puzzled, for it was such an obvious truth, but I promised her I would do it, and I meant it. After she was laid to rest, I missed her so dearly. Soon, though, I was back to my old habits: making fun of others and complaining incessantly. At times, I would consider what she had said, but I could only agree, thinking, “Of course, you will find bad in people. I do it all the time!”.
Once I had matured a little though, and my childhood fantasies gave way to more adult concerns, I began to realize what the saying meant. Of course, if you look for the bad in someone, you will find they have faults. No one is perfect, least of all me. But, maybe, that itself is the problem. What, if you look for the good in people, will you find? And I had to conclude that everyone, even that rotten Beckham Quimby, had some good in them.
And then I realized that a lot of one’s outlook comes down to choice. We are all self-fulfilling prophets, are we not? Think of all the times you go into a situation with a preconceived idea of how it will likely end up. How many times did things happen more or less how you thought they would? Now, think about how many times you were completely surprised by how things turned out? A lot less, right? Some of that is simple reality, which should never be truly ignored. I am not suggesting one should waltz into a lair of trolls with a handful of daisies tomorrow hoping to make new friends!
But I hated no one more than Beckham Quimby, until I decided to maybe just try to see the good in him. Soon, he was my best friend, and later, my dear love. He perished in the assault on Archet, and I miss him terribly. But how much more would I have missed if I never saw who he really was? How much more would I have lost if I never gave him, or myself, that chance?
I always felt so safe and secure on our farm. My world had borders made of Archet, Staddle and, when I was very lucky, Bree. Existence ended with these places, I thought. Everything else was merely a dream. What I have seen these past few months could drive me mad, if I were to let it. Dark forces I never knew existed pose grave threats to us all. I just think we should save our more critical judgments for them and look upon those that we break bread with, walk the road with, and share our lives with, in a kinder light.