I recently finished A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles. This beautifully crafted book was recommended to me by my friend and yoga buddy Shelly who offers up wonderful reads I might never discover if not for our rapid fire pre-class book club exchange sessions. As Shelly so perfectly described this book, ‘it reads like poetry’. Having drifted and danced through each page, and devoured every single word (you know I read them all), I wish I had purchased the hard copy instead of downloading it on my Kindle. I highlighted many passages of the book that spoke to me and I’d like to have that hardbound copy to reach for now and again to revisit my favorite passages. The following excerpt touches on a time of personal experience. I sincerely believe first impressions are important, however, they are only a snapshot…
‘…For that matter, what can a first impression tell us about anyone? Why, no more than a chord can tell us about Beethoven, or a brush stroke about Botticelli. By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration— and our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at ever possible hour.’ – Alexander Rostov from A Gentleman In Moscow
Is this not an exquisite literary illustration of why we should hold our tongues, reserve our judgements, and still our pens until we’ve had ample opportunity to form opinions about those we’ve only recently met? Each of us as we sit on both sides of the table are perhaps not quite ourselves in that initial moment of contact thus each of us requires additional moments, daresay several meetings, to undress to our comfy selves and extend that first friendly handshake of ‘here I am, this is the real me I want you to know, and judge, and write or comment about.’
I had the opportunity to work with someone who, upon first impression, had me smitten. I was very excited to work for her, do her bidding, and support her cause. To use an over-used term, she appeared transparent with her intentions and actions. However, as time passed and I got a better feel for who I was working for I realized something was not quite the same. In most aspects, yes, the fabric of her upstanding personality was intact. But there were some threads definitely not visible when first we met.
And is this not normal? That we tame our personalities just a smidge when first revealing ourselves in order to test the surrounding waters? Perhaps we neatly tuck in these loose threads like fly away strands of unkempt hair as part of our daily grooming. In this case, I couldn’t let it go. I couldn’t continue working with this individual and pretend to not notice what I had or be offended by what I was. I am certain my temperament was tainted based on the inner turmoil I was battling at the time, thus I am not above realizing that what I brought to the table, or did not, might not have supported her first impression of me. It goes both ways!
In summary, I whole-heartedly agree with Alexander Rostov’s poetic sketch of first impressions and how we must be gentle when forming them. Although first impressions are said to be everything, it is in the subsequent meetings the mold is cast. And from that mold we form our everlasting impressions.
In response to the Daily Prompt, Tame.