So says Confucius.
I confess I am a very judgmental person, I look, I asses, I inwardly evaluate. I will fill in the lives of others constructing a tower of stories to fill in the gaps of knowledge I lack.
In my late 20's I had a bit of an epiphany moment, I was on a school trip with a number of staff who I would ordinarily have dismissed within in a couple of seconds as not really worth giving the time of day. I was and can be quite clique, not an attractive habit but one difficult to shake.
During the trip we had to perform numerous outdoor and indoor activities and two incidents stick in my mind.
The first was a woman who was very intelligent but geeky with whom I held no common ground with, she almost ran up a rock face I could no more have successfully ascended if I had sprouted wings.
The second was one of those slightly pious teachers a bit frumpy and a little dull, one night during a sing song I realised she had the voice of an Angel. I grew up a little that week when I realised that we all have strengths, sometimes just not obvious ones, but I do try very hard to see some good in everyone.
Obviously there will always be exceptions to the rule, but not many.
This brings me to the story of Angel, she sat in a cot opposite Leyla, I had thought by the amount of stuff she was surrounded by that she had been their a while. Later when we asked it transpired she had arrived that morning, her mother went to fetch some things and then she went. from 3pm-middle of the night Angel was on her own*. At first I did what all sanctimonious mothers do, I tutted, judged the table of junk food next to her cot and made endless suppositions about her abandoned status.
Angel it should be said was stunning, she had the blackest, most beautiful skin I have ever seen, she sat the entire time and played in her cot, dancing to music, dressing herself and grabbing all the goodies from the table. Even Emin was mesmerised by her ability to occupy herself, something mine have always struggled to do.
I worked out she was not quite 2 years old. Angel's one anomaly was she hated being held. Really, really hated it, nor did she want to drink milk or eat food other than Pringles or Starburst. Leyla loved playing with her but I drew conclusion after conclusion. Then I thought, hang on, what if her mother had a genuine reason to leave her so long. She was clearly well cared for, beautifully dressed, maybe her mother too had to be admitted, maybe she did not have the support of any friends or family, who was I to judge?
I will leave you with something that made us all laugh. When I asked the nurse trying to feed her why Angel had been admitted she shrugged and said she did not know, Leyla piped up, "it's because she's nuts" We both did a double take. Then Leyla pointed to Angels bracelet, "look. see? It says it here on her braclet she's nuts" The nurse explained to Leyla that it meant she was allergic to nuts!
* Leyla woke me later after midnight to tell me Angel had gone, vanished, we did not even get to say goodbye.