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Weekend Life

Theory: Chance and circumstance

Looking past the ‘wrapping’ to see what’s inside

He’s tan; drives an expensive car; his suits look custom made. You know the type; he’s rich … must be.

We all do it, judge a book by its cover and then make assumptions about a person’s character and lifestyle. Once sized up, we either reject them or invite them in for a closer look.

We’re so caught up in judging others that we fail to see that we are all just the product of chance and circumstance. That person could be you, if life had been different.

Where would you be today if you had been blessed, lets say, with nurturing parents who had loved you and encouraged you to pursue your dreams? What if you had married the first person you fell in love with? What if you hadn’t rejected that job offer? Or taken that friend’s suggestion to start a business?
What if your talents lent themselves best for a career as an orthopedic surgeon? Or maybe you were blessed instead with artistic talents.

What if you’d gotten out of the stock market one day earlier? Or had a rich uncle? How would your life be different if the chances and circumstances had been different? Chance and circumstance shape the cover of our lives, not the content; and yet it’s the cover that everyone judges.

We should all be blind. Then we could see each other for what we truly are, the true person, not the stuff. Our outsides are just a test to see if others can look beyond the exterior.

Sometimes it’s really hard to.

I like to think of others as part of a flower garden. Some people have beautifully intricate petals, but upon closer inspection you notice their thorns. Others are not very showy, yet their fragrance is intoxicating. Put them all together and you have a truly magnificent garden.

Our world needs all the gifts that people from all walks of life have to offer.

Only a few of us are fortunate enough to be blessed with the combination of skills and talent necessary to achieve financial success in this world; yet all of us are part of a huge network of cogs that – when fit together – makes our world go round.

Like a giant puzzle, we are all the pieces that make up the big picture. Can you imagine what our world would be like if it contained only artists? Accountants? Or brain surgeons? We can’t do it alone, we need to come together as a community of individuals and share our talents. The world would be quite a different place if we could humbly accept our gifts and generously give them to others.

Recognizing others as beautiful gifts, just with different wrapping, opens up our world, drops our pretenses, encourages us to reach out, ask for help, and give help freely. Through these actions our lives and those of others become enriched with compassion.

Presents are meant to be opened. Take a chance. Introduce yourself to someone new. And get to know some of life’s wonderful gifts.

• Jamie Palmer is a Batavia resident and a licensed clinical professional counselor and senior mediator with more than 35 years of experience in the field of psychology working with families, couples and individuals. She is currently a therapist at Novo-Renewing Joy in Life counseling center in St. Charles. She can be reached by calling 630-492-0604 or by emailing

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