Compassion for everybody

A lady came in yesterday and was really upset about a book that was late. She kept going on and on about how “He was supposed to have renewed it.” She said this about five times.

I had an idea who she was talking about.

I took care of the fine and advised her to get a receipt next time and check it. We are human. We make mistakes. But her account is her responsibility to make sure it is correct.

Because we were dealing with a book about non-violent conflict resolution, I decided to open her up. I wanted her to have some compassion. You never know what burdens someone is carrying. Remembering that helps in defusing situations. If she is interested in resolving conflicts, she needs this tool.

At least I warned her that I was about to tell her something heavy.

I told her that more than likely the person who had made the mistake was grieving for his wife, who had died three weeks prior. I gave this a breath’s worth of pause.

I then told her that he himself has since died.

I showed her the memorial sign we have for him.

She stared at it, and said that was him.

Of course he didn’t renew her item. He wasn’t there. And now he really isn’t here.

I wanted her to cut him – and everybody else – some slack. You never know what people are dealing with. You never know what burdens they are carrying. They might not even know themselves.

So many of us are old minefields.

Will power and won’t power

It isn’t will power.
It is won’t power.

I won’t eat another piece of pie.
I won’t get a second plate at the buffet.
I won’t let other people control my emotions.
I won’t buy that thing to make me happy.
I won’t blame other people for my anger.

But when you give up something bad, you need to fill that space with something good. Otherwise the bad habit will come back even stronger.

For example –

I won’t waste my lunchtime. I’ll go for a short walk first.

I won’t watch TV all evening – I’ll write or read instead.

Your life is yours to control. Everything you do is your choice. How you respond or react is your choice. And there are repercussions for every choice you make.

Choose wisely. This life is yours, but it is short. There is no reset button.

Mental health day

I’ve finally realized that my job doesn’t pay me in real money. It pays me in days off. That is part of government jobs.

And while I resent having to work another 14 years before I can retire, I’ve realized that I can kind of “retire” right now. If I waited until I was able to retire, I might be too infirm to do what I want to do. If I follow the path of my parents, I’ll not even make it to retirement time.

So I’ve started taking what in calling “mental health days”. Once a month I take off the Monday after I’ve had the weekend off. This means I have four days off in a row. I don’t do anything I have to do – I do stuff I want to do. I read, or write or work on art. I do the stuff I would do if I was retired.

I’m practicing being retired. But I’m also doing preventive maintenance on my soul.

Happiness is a front

A Volkswagen bug is a car that brings smiles to people. People smile when they see it. I notice this every time I go for a drive. I think it brings back good memories from their childhood. I also think there’s something special about the shape – all curves and no angles – that is soothing to see.

But the new Volkswagen bug is very difficult to repair. It isn’t as easy as the original ones were. Apparently you have to take almost the entire engine apart in order to fix anything. The designers who created it didn’t think that it would ever break down, so they didn’t make it easy to repair. This means it costs hundreds of dollars in labor every time I have to take this thing in.

So behind the smile there’s a lot of pain for me. The bystanders don’t know this.

This is very true for a lot of happy people. They aren’t happy because nothing bad has happened to them. They’re happy because bad things have happened to them and they’ve grown through them and because of them. The bad things made them stronger. Other people see their happiness and it spreads to them. Meanwhile, they don’t know how much work was required to get to that point.

Let go

You have to let go to gain. How can you get new things with your hands full? You have to take everything out of the room to redesign it. I’ve gone through a lot of cleaning-out recently, and none of it has been planned by me. I see it as a gift from God. I’m learning that if I can’t control it, I should accept it as being Divinely ordained.

God has a plan. And I don’t know it. I have an idea of what it is.

I don’t want to work for myself. I am afraid of the risk of standing alone, having to figure out to pay taxes on a small business or to trust someone else with it. So is that what I’m being called to? Or is that what I’m being directed away from?

More and more I can see the source of illness in people. It isn’t about curing disease but preventing it. Disease is just a symptom of a dis-function.

I like the shaman on Northern Exposure. He lived with his patients for three days, eating what they ate, doing what they did. He stepped into their shoes in the most real way. Only then did he know why they were sick. People have to learn how to work with what they have.

Feeding them good food while they are in a rehabilitation center is only part of it. They have to learn how to provide it for themselves when they get home, and how to make good choices when they are at a restaurant.

They will not have the stress of dealing with people who aggravate them while at the center. They have to learn how to speak up for themselves and set boundaries when they go home or to work.

It is about past, present, and future, all at once. This means addressing past trauma and mis-learned lessons in the present, to create a healthy future.