Never underestimate flannel—or people

“Now, each of us has his own special gift.

And you know this was meant to be true.

And if you don’t underestimate me I won’t underestimate you.”

~ Bob Dylan

My granddaughter listened as I described my recent writing projects. Then she started giving me some suggestions. Knowing I would forget, I asked her to write them down in my idea journal.

The first one on her list sounded promising, “People are like flannel; they’re underrated.”

“What does that mean?”

“Well, I love wearing flannel shirts because they’re soft and comfy. People don’t think much of flannel. They don’t appreciate how it makes you feel. We do the same with people, we underestimate what they can do.”

We underestimate the wisdom of youth. They see the world with fresh eyes. Possibilities, injustices, and best of all, sheer unabashed joy of living.

Bob Dylan makes a deal with us, “if you don’t underestimate me, I won’t underestimate you.” What if we took that thought with us as we look at people around us? What flannel do they wear that makes them special, and, well, comfy?

Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit.
We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.

~Wilma Rudolph

The person standing in front of you may not look like your idea of success. They may not appear as “all-together.” I learned long ago to temper my judgment of others. You never know the pain or burden they carry. But then, that same person turns to you and flashes the most disarming smile. “How are you, today? Isn’t this a blessed day?”

All my preconceived notions get slammed. I saw pitiful. They shone a light. I underestimated the comfort of their flannel shirt. That rumpled figure in front of me gave me the greatest gift—a smile and a kind word.

Never underestimate your potential

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment,
or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
~Leo Bascaglia

Not only do we underestimate others, we overlook the potential within ourselves. A constant voice runs this tape in our ear,

“You are not good enough. Don’t even try.”

Then, you listen, and give up because you believed the lie that you are not enough. Every person, and I mean every one of us has more hidden inside than we ever allow to flow into the world.

I remember a Sunday school song about a little light.

This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine.
I won’t let anyone blow it out.
I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.

“Sometimes people – especially people over 40 – underestimate what they really are capable of.
They believe they’re not capable of doing something great.
I tell people who are over 40, “I don’t want your best. I want better than that.
I want better than what you perceive your best is.”
~ Jack Lalanne

Now for those of you feeling a bit over the hill. You and I lament what we could’ve, should’ve would’ve done. Stop that, now.

Every day brings a new opportunity to look at the world with fresh eyes and hope. You are enough. Repeat it.

“I am enough.”

Now, take a chance, do what only you are meant to do. Sing, dance, write, plant a garden. Give a smile. Share your best with the world and keep getting better every day. Don’t underestimate yourself. And try wearing some soft comfy flannel.

And always—

Be kind. Be brave. Be you.

Photo: © Kathryn LeRoy