Other People’s Drama –
At one time during my adult years, I came across a quote that read; “An emergency on your part does not constitute a crisis on mine.” I don’t remember where it was but the quote has stuck with me.
There can be an almost irresistible draw when someone has a juicy piece of gossip or wants your opinion about a situation they’re facing. Before you offer your “two-cents” remember that once you pass through that door, enter yourself into other people’s drama, it may be impossible to get out. A couple of weeks ago I had a friend who was starting through the drama door and I reminded them; “make sure its worth it.”
The main issue with other people’s drama is there’s often a side to take, a team to join. This is usually the reason a person tells you about issues and problems in the first place. They want you in their corner. We puff ourselves up thinking; “They need our help. Our advice. Our support.” However, what they mostly want is someone to affirm them in the decisions they’ve already made.
I’m not telling people to not listen, empathize with others who need help, a willing ear or even a hand to pull them up but to understand that sometimes what people want and need are completely different things. Be aware and wary.
This morning, driving to a Father/Child reading event I was rounding a curve when out of nowhere came a big white dog, barking and headed straight for the truck. I didn’t have much time to react when at the last second it decided to turn back. My heart went into my stomach and as I looked in the rearview mirror the dog made its way back to the bush it was hiding behind to wait for its next victim. It was frightening to have this huge canine all of a sudden appear on what should have been an easy drive to a county library.
After my heart and stomach settled I thought about the dog and the fright it gave me. The fear had subsided and I wondered where its owner was, why the dog was allowed to play this dangerous game when, in a collision, the vehicle almost always wins?
I don’t like being afraid. Fear is unsettling and I’d prefer to live life without it. However, I admit that life can be a lot like the, almost, run in with the dog today. We navigate the road of life the best we know how hoping to reach our destination. When, out of nowhere, something happens which makes us afraid. It may be a brush with death, a lingering sickness, a mental health issue, a financial crisis, a danger or challenge to friends and family. In these moments we become afraid. Our goal is no longer reaching our destination but getting through each next moment. Everything slows down and our attention becomes solely on the fear.
In one sense it’s helpful our vision is singularly focused. It helps us concentrate on what’s in our way and how to avoid it or fight it. However, if we are not careful the thing which makes us afraid becomes the only thing we see and our vision to all the beauty and wonder of life is obscured. Balancing being fearful and mindful is tricky but is the only way we make sure we don’t spend our lives afraid to live.
Today I’ve been thinking about the eclipse which happened yesterday. It was awesome and am thankful I was alive to see it. However, I’ve also been thinking about the fact that we see the sun and the moon every day. All we have to do is look up at the correct time, as with the eclipse, and we can see both in much if not all of their glory. What made yesterday’s event special was the two occupying the sky at the same time. It was so spectacular we bought dorky looking glasses, closed down schools and businesses, marked the day on our calendar and watched the time closely. All so we wouldn’t miss two objects in the sky, hundred of thousands of miles away from us, come together.
The moon is about 200,000 miles from the planet we call home. This seems like a huge number until we realize the sun is almost 93 million! Yet, for a few moments yesterday, the moon, which is much smaller, blocked out the sun. The difference is compared to the sun, the moon is sitting right next to us.
Reflecting on this I begin to wonder about our proximity to each other and the troubles we are all trying to overcome. Sometimes the obstacles and dangers we face seem so big and terrible. They are daunting and overwhelming until someone does something kind for us. Then, even if for a few moments, the act of mercy and grace is what we see not the enormous challenges we are fighting to overcome.
There are people we know who are fighting for their very lives. An enemy, a disease, a crisis of a sort that we ask; “What can I do?” The answer is simple; be kind. We will be amazed at the difference a random act of kindness can make.
Life can be hard, difficult, painful and full of loss. There are times, seasons, when the chaos of existence seems to strip us of everything we hold dear and we wonder; “Is there a reason to keep going? What’s the point when everything has been taken away?” When all around us has crumbled, our foundations have been shaken and those things which we’ve placed our faith in no longer exist and we come to place where love, grace and miracles are illusion, what do we do?
At this crisis point we are faced with the decision to trust when there doesn’t seem reason, to see blessing when your way is cursed, to expect life as death hovers near. From the rubble of disappointment, disease, defeat, dejection, even death comes a chance at a new beginning, an appreciation for what will emerge after all we value disappears.
This morning I was running early for my fathers with addictions group so I stopped at the local Hardee’s and studied while enjoying a cup of coffee. I was reading the page (pictured above) when I heard a raised voice coming from the counter. Apparently a man had ordered his breakfast and they never let him know it was ready or he didn’t hear when they announced his ticket number. Either way he was not happy and let the employee know it with a loud and thunderous; “Thank you!” when he received his food, jerked the tray off the serving area and complained boisterously all the way back to his seat.
The above definition states that; “Good mental health is the ability to think things through so that you can adjust to and meet life’s demands in ways that don’t harm you or others.” I had two thoughts as I watched this angry man grumble and wolf down his biscuit. One, there is a lot of wisdom in this definition and it’s applicable to everyone. Two, who we are, especially in crisis and moments of frustration, reveal our character perhaps more than any other time.