Tuesday was garbage day. Since I have been on my own for over a week, there was not much to take to the curb. I thought to myself, “Why bother? It can wait till next Tuesday.” Then, after I remembered my advice about loving kindness and doing the chores that need doing, I prodded myself into action.
There I am, standing at the curb holding a bag half-filled with trash. I think, Hm. Hardly seems right to make the trash man stop for this puny bag, now does it? I know, let’s put it with North’s garbage.
Oh, his isn’t out yet.
No problem. Plan B: Neighbour South?
Uh-oh, did I miss the garbage altogether? No, appears not, for further along mounds of trash bags await collection. But I don’t want to walk half a block in my grubby clothing carrying a green plastic garbage bag. What will the neighbours think?
Once again, no problem! I am determined to make sure that
a.) I take the garbage to the curb and
b.) I don’t make the garbage man stop for one silly half-filled bag
I dash across the road and leave the bag with East’s pile and scuttle back home.
This is me, folks. This is how I do kindness. In dribs and drabs. No Pulitzer Prize pay-it-forward stuff for this gal. I’m not wired that way.
This is difficult for me to disclose, but since we are on the subject of taking out the trash, here goes:
I would not call myself “kind” as in being generous with material possessions or money. I rarely offer to help with my physical presence. I am not a joiner. I rarely donate to charity. I fall short of calling myself greedy, then again, I identify strongly with Ebenezer Scrooge.
When I worked at Bell Canada, for example, a co-worker was severely injured in a car accident. J was in a coma for months. Other people from the office found the time to see her. One gal visited once a week until J died. I felt compelled to visit her, but never got over the resistance, my discomfort and distaste for all things hospital.
When I was married to The One, we worked together in our mom and pop sewing machine store. He repaired machines and we sold several lines of new models. He made arrangements to take part in the Fall Home and Garden Show and asked if I would help him out in the booth. I suggested that he work the show and I would stay at the store. I explained that the trade show noise, the crowds, and the bombardment of sights and sounds overwhelm and exhaust me.
Apparently “no” was not an option. He played the shaming card, the “you are a lousy partner for putting your needs before “our” needs” card. He threatened me physically, but did not follow through. Instead I received the silent treatment for a few days.
You know what? Yes, he was totally out of line to attack me emotionally, but he had a good point. The fact remains that in a relationship, with community, friends, family, husbands, it behooves me to think beyond myself and my needs only.
I do manage to go beyond myself from time to time. I’ve been burned so badly by the episode with The One that in my current marriage, I am almost pathological in my diligence.
Anything you need while I’m out? Can I help you with that? Let me know if I can help in any way. You sure? Last call…
See what I mean? Almost to the point of harassment.
It’s a work in progress, this helping out/kindness thing. Here are some more examples of what I have done by way of extending kindness to others:
• Mount a mailbox close to the street so the delivery folk don’t have to walk up the hill and a steep flight of stairs.
• As I walk to my car in a full parking lot, I notice that someone is looking for a place to park. I tell ‘em, “Follow me! I’m on my way out!” and I escort them to the spot.
• When I’m grocery shopping, I offer to take someone’s cart back to the store. Granted, we all know that has its pitfalls, don’t we?
• Bake an extra pie and leave it on my friend’s front step.
• Neighbours’ back porches have seen bags of string beans, zucchini and tomatoes
• Read a manuscript when invited. Provide feedback afterward.
• Read and respond to posts and comments: carefully and thoughtfully. My motto: we are all connected, so play nice.
The common denominator in the list above is that they are all easy things to do. There’s an enjoyment factor, something is in it for me.
This issue bears more examination. I like to think that I am aware of my surroundings, that I am in tune with what other’s might be feeling or experiencing. I like to help. I want to help. In part, I suspect that the nasty feedback I received from a Girl Guide leader is responsible for part of my hesitation. I’m doing better. Trade shows are doable, as are hospitals.
Mother Teresa I am not. But I could afford to move away from Scrooge and closer to center on the kindness spectrum. But sometimes, I’m stuck, holding a garbage bag filled with laziness and a default tendency to take the efficient way, the easy way, the least painful way.
Inspired by the Daily Post Honey vs. VinegarThis wee Aesop quote makes me feel better.
Categories: Personal Growth