My dear friend took her dear friend to her ObGyn appointment this week, three months after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. Now let me just state right off the bat – these two women look nothing alike. From their height to their features, there is zero similarity between them. Perhaps that’s one reason I was so shocked to hear that the doctor, who entered with medical student and occupational therapist in tow, had said what she did to my friend, “Are you the Grammy?”
Needle scratch… Collective gasp… Single eardrum piercing scream. Are you the grandmother? Who says that? It’s like putting your hand of the belly of someone you’re not sure is pregnant and asking about the due date. YOU. JUST. DON’T. DO. THAT. Eventually becoming a grandmother is a goal that I hope to achieve myself one day. And It’s a fairly innocent mistake given the nature of the appointment. However even a fleeting glance at the two women would have made most people realize they are approximately the same age. And she called herself a doctor!
Granted, there was nothing cruel in the comment, and my friend and I shared a laugh after our initial shock and a frantic back and forth texting rant. I asked, “Did she apologize?” “No” my friend replied. It had been a drive-by Grammy-ing. One victim, no arrests. Long afterwards I was left thinking about how my friend had genuinely been shaken by the careless comment and the idea that the doctor had never apologized for her mistake. I just wish there had been a moment of self-reflection before the hasty comment, perhaps “how would I feel about this thing I’m about to say?” Maybe we get too entrenched in our routines, our own feelings and experiences to notice what is really going on. If the doctor had pulled back in this moment to see who was truly in the room with the mother she would have seen a woman who has been experiencing personal devastation and the loss of a family. She would have seen a woman who has alternated between crying herself to sleep and staring into the void of insomnia for months. And she would have seen the friend who had dropped everything to bring this new mother her baby doctor appointment a day after one of the worst snowstorms we’ve had this year in Toronto – and there are a few contenders in that category. Maybe then she would have said something different like “Are you part of the family?” Or “Hi, I’m Dr Insertnamehere.” Or “Who is this youthful goddess with the strength of an army and the dedication of a saint standing before me?”
This is a tough time of the year yogis, and you can’t unroll a yoga mat without hitting someone who is suffering. One of the simplest ways we have to affect people in our daily paths is with our words. They can sting, they can soothe, but they can also just be thoughtless and hasty without any malicious intent at all. So as this season melts away into the next, I challenge us all to plant the seeds of beautiful ideas. Let’s use our words to heal and celebrate and encourage, not just to define and order. We’ll call it Word Yoga.