Beliefs, Day in the life

Safe Spots

My dog has two “safe spots” in the house. A patch of tile and his bed. When he doesn’t want to be bothered, brushed, or bathed, he goes to one of those safe spots. We respect that and wait until he moves away to proceed.

Image result for images of dogs hiding

We humans don’t always have our safe spot nearby. When someone imposes views not aligned with our own, it is considered rude to stop them from speaking further. If only we could travel with some sort of invisible force field that is electrified like a bug zapper, we would be able to see the unwanted words and ideas sizzle and smoke, never reaching our intellect and emotional body.

No matter how much we may empathize or sympathize with another, we do not have the ability to read their minds, walk their path, or feel all that they are feeling from their unique perspective. And no matter how much we may identify with their problems – having “Me, too!” moments – we are not able to fully experience all that they are with identical philosophies or values.

We may desire to help so much that we are blinded by our own intention, unable to see the body language and facial cues that beg, “Please Stop!”

   Trying to help when I’m not sure what I need yet.

   Thinking you know how I feel when you don’t.

   Pressing your views against mine.

   Talking. You’re only making things worse.

The poor person we want to help only wants to jump ship in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight.

A person’s “safe spot” should be honored with breathing space and time for contemplation. We can make offerings to tempt the person away from their spot, then step back, allowing them space to choose for themselves which offer they’d like to receive. And if our offering is not the one chosen, accept that choice as being in their best interests.

Some of us are hard-wired helpers who sometimes forget that help is selected by the individual in need, and one size does not fit all.

Related image


(The video of this dog is totally unrelated, but he’s offering dog toys to an infant because he stole her toy. )



Day in the life

Energy Exchange

I’m always leery of panhandlers holding cardboard signs. Once I saw someone offer a man a bag of food. He got irate, waving his arms and yelling. He didn’t want food. I knew a gentleman who had a regular spot on a median near the airport. An amputee in a wheelchair, he didn’t bother with a sign. When he was done for the day, he wheeled himself to a nearby 7 Eleven, where his Cadillac was parked around back. Another man with a sign attacked the car in front of me at a stoplight. Apparently, the driver said something to upset him. Snapped the driver’s window in half.

After Christmas, as I waited in the car for my husband, a woman knocked on my window as if she needed help. She had a cane and a clump of something in her free hand and told me her story in a rehearsed patter.

“Would you be interested in buying a keychain? I’m a widow with twin daughters in need of anything you can spare.”

I’d seen her around the area on other occasions. As I rarely have actual cash on my person, I could only offer some of the quarters I kept in the car for parking meters. I didn’t need a keychain but was impressed that she had something to offer in exchange instead of asking for a handout. The item was simply yarn threaded with colorful plastic beads that many folks might decline or even throw away. But when she asked me what color I’d like, I told her. And it is now on my key ring.

It’s lightweight, so my mechanic won’t fuss about straining the ignition switch, and it’s my favorite color. If it lasts only a week before coming unraveled, that’s fine. Until then, it will serve as a humble reminder that a few needy folks understand the concept of energy exchange or fair trade.

Before currency, we traded whatever we had for whatever we needed. I wonder how many unneeded items were exchanged for medical care, shoes, grain, weapons, anything. Doctors probably had a stockpile of things they never needed but accepted because that was all the patient had to offer. Also, because it helped maintain any dignity the person had left after falling on hard times.

When our exchange was complete, the woman hobbled to a man in the next row. I imagined her repeating her story. He shook his head and got into his car. She limped onto the next. As much sympathy as I had for her, I had equal admiration. Approaching strangers in a parking lot had to be humiliating, yet she seemed to be well over any emotion about it. She may have had little to offer, but she offered what little she had. And that’s all anyone could ask.