Sunday, 22 April 2012

What You Do Isn't Always What You Do

A young-ish couple have bought a small bungalow on my delivery and have decided to strip it of it's past and give it a new lease of life. I've seen them working on it for months and it's finally started to look like a home. When I posted a letter there the other day the door flew open and I was greeted by the lady who enthusiastically invited me in to show me how much progress they had made.

What was once a dark, cluttered and damp home (an old man had lived there by himself for years) was now a light, modern, clean and fresh home.

I had spoken to the lady's partner a couple of times before and had mentioned my book to him.

As I was leaving he asked me, whilst he was on his hands and knees with his hand in the wall looking for some kind of pipe connected to the boiler, how I and my book were doing, and how I was clearly still a postman.

I laughed.

'Yes, I'm, still a postman, but it's OK.' I began to tell him about my other writing projects, my hospice work and how I'm a trained bereavement support worker with Cruse, and how I can do all this because I'm a postman.

He smiled, stood up and wiped his hands on his already stained jeans.

'Isn't it funny,' he said, 'what people really do.' He paused in contemplation. 'You know, what people really do. You're a postman, but you're not a postman. It's just what you do. It's not what you really do. It's not what you're about. I know this cleaner and in his spare time he studies antiques, but you wouldn't think it to look at him whilst he was cleaning.' He paused again. 'It's strange. I've been saying hello to you since we started doing up this place. I've been saying hello to you as the postman. But you're more than that - now I know what you really do.'

I completely understood what he was saying.

To put it bluntly: we shouldn't go around judging people by what they do, because what they do isn't always what they do.

We judge all the time. I find myself doing it every day. We judge people by what people look like. How they dress. Their hair style. How tall or short they are. The colour of their skin. Their occupation. How they walk. How they laugh. How they frown. How they run. How they smile. How they smell. Their name.

And all the time I have to tell myself - that's not who they are.

They're so much more than the mere attributes we judge them by.

I've spoken before about how everything's a beautiful mystery and is ultimately unknowable - and by unknowable I mean beyond the grasp of the mind and therefore cannot be defined. That goes for everybody you see too.

They're a beautiful mystery just like you.

By judging them you're judging yourself.

By thinking they are the attributes which we judge them by, means that we think we are the attributes that we can be judged on by others, probably by those who we judge!

And by that we're cutting ourselves off from seeing our trueselves - from that mystery to reveal itself.

It's a constant practise of mine to be aware of when I judge someone.

And it really is a constant practise.

We shouldn't go around judging people by what they do, because what they do isn't always what they do.


  1. Oh exactly! In the tick box world I'm a full time mum but people assume I'm bored/watching daytime tv/economically inactive etc

    Who I really am? I volunteer in my community by editing and managing our parish magazine, I write a blog, run an allotment, keep chickens, garden, bake, process all we grow, sew and knit. I do these things because I'm at home for my children

    I'm a recent convert to your blog but really enjoying it.


    1. Hi Julie, that's great! Thanks for taking the time post a comment.

      What's your blog?

      :) All the best


    2. Thank you.

      I can be found at


  2. Thank you Gavin, this is something I often say too. I started meditating last year and am trying to be aware of judgements I make, often a reflection of a part of ones self?

    I like not fitting into boxes but have seen how others can be judgemental and had to develop a thick skin to stick to my beliefs and not be hurt! I try to empathise and see things from the other person's point of view, that helps a lot in difficult situations.

    I'm new to your blog but will enjoy catching up on your past posts now. Thanks. x

    1. Hi Sue, many thanks for your words. It's hard not to judge. Sometimes we do it more when we're with specific people - those really judgemental people who we play along with because we dare not stand up to them and run the risk of looking foolish. Sometimes we judge because it's so easily done and 'everybody else does it so why shouldn't I?'

      It takes a lot of strength and patience to pick oneself up on every judgement that one makes. But I think it's worth it in the long run.

      Afterall, when we judge another we're surely indirectly judging ourselves, and that may arise out of a lack of self-worth.

      Self examination is fun! :)

      Peace and Love