An unexpected virus.

Somebody brought a cold virus into my house this Thanksgiving holiday.

Like any good mystery there are a limited number of suspects for this viral crime. Not so many as to make the mystery impossibly unsolvable, but not so few as to make fingering the criminal a certainty.

Besides the six primary suspects who sat together around our food laden table, other less obvious criminal possibilities exist.

In particular I’m thinking of two friends of one of my daughters who unexpectedly ended up sharing a meal with us later during the holiday weekend. They also spent some time watching dog and cat videos in our family room while my husband and I sat baffled in a room nearby.

And then there are the off stage possibilities. The woman who works the counter at the cleaners who came from behind her register to give me a warm unexpected Happy Thanksgiving hug.

The man at the holiday food table in Whole Foods where my son was kind enough to pick up my overly large food order.

Or possibly the person who last touched the fuel handle at the gas station where I filled my tank.

So many possibilities for criminals who brought this virus into the house.

Someone is guilty of illegal virus transport.

But more things were brought into my home besides cold germs this past holiday weekend.

We also had an influx of ideas.

Usually our household consists of two avid news consumers.

My husband and I both feel the bittersweet need to stay informed of the myriad of happenings, mostly alarming, that occur each day.  My own personal refresh rate for this particular activity is at least once every hour.

I can’t resist checking the internet to see if anything new has occurred which requires a share of my worry.  I try to equally distribute my anxious concerns. I spend equal time worrying about health, finance and the environment. At the same time I make sure I attend to natural disasters, terrorist activities and political wrangling.

I like my worry to be well-rounded.

By the time my husband gets home at the end of the day I am often bursting with anxious opinions that I share with him as he comes through the door. He often is equally disturbed by a story he just heard on NPR during his commute.

We share, discuss and occasionally disagree.  But it is just the two of us, and after so many years, we usually know how the other feels and thinks.

But this holiday I was reminded what it is like to have a larger discussion, with a broader variety of viewpoints. People came in and out. We asked after each other’s health, activities and events. We asked about other people’s families and plans.  But we also heard other opinions about current events.

It was invigorating. I was reminded once again how important it is to listen to people with different ideas voicing their thoughts. It reminds me that my feelings and opinions are only one person’s opinions.

And that is encouraging.

Because we need to discuss and come to some consensus over what happens next on a variety of fronts.

We need to understand that those who have dramatically dissimilar ideas about what we should do next, can teach us something about ourselves and a broader set of possible directions.

I need to listen, not just to those who agree with me, but particularly to those who do not.

This is what I was reminded of this Thanksgiving.  It is important to broaden my thinking. It is important to be exposed to other ideas. We all always think we know what is best, but as soon as I have a chance to converse with a wider range of thinkers, I remember that other people with very different outlooks always think they know what is best as well.

I want to thank all the people I got to see on Thanksgiving.

They gave me new thoughts and perspectives.

I just wish one of them hadn’t given me this stupid cold.


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