People Will Disappoint You If You Let Them: A Moment With Bill Reflection
Come on People Now, Love One Another
Well, folks, I hate to burst your bubble, but not everyone loves you.
I will even go so far as to say there are people who dislike you who don’t even know you.
How’s that for a quick slap of reality?
I was one of the flower children of the 60’s. I sang songs of love and greeted strangers with a smile. I chanted and meditated and bought into the whole power of love movement, and in truth I still have love as my guiding light through life. It is the only thing that makes sense. I can find no hope for the future through consumerism. Wars offer no solace for me, nor do any governments. Only when I immerse myself in the power of love do I feel good about myself and others.
Still, I am a realist. I know with every fiber of my being that not everyone shares my principles. That reality became clear once again this past weekend. Let me tell you what happened.
A Simple Trip to the Library
Every Saturday my wife and I go to the city library. We love to read, we love to research, and we love to spend time together. It is an errand we actually look forward to, so there we were last Saturday at the Timberland Regional Library in downtown Olympia doing our thing.
We went our separate ways as we always do, Bev looking for gardening books and me in search of the perfect mystery. As we got ready to check out our books Bev realized that she was missing her wallet. She knew she had it when we arrived because she used it to check on some books at the customer information desk, but a half hour later it was not in her pocket.
After looking up and down the aisles for ten minutes, and after asking at the desk if anyone had turned in a wallet, we accepted the only possible conclusion, that it had fallen out of her pocket and someone had found it and stolen it….which is exactly what happened. We rushed home so Bev could start cancelling her debit card and during that drive home (ten minutes tops) the thief had used her card three times at McDonald’s for a total of $20 in purchases.
The Difference Between the Two of Us
Yes, there is a fundamental difference between the way Bev views the world and the way I do.
When this happened, Bev was depressed. No, not over the loss of twenty dollars; rather, she was depressed that a fellow human being would do such a thing. I think some of her innocence was lost in that simple act of thievery. Bev sees the best in we humans, and she believes in the good within us all. I, on the other hand, was not surprised at all. I am fully aware of what we humans are capable of. I know that humans will lie, cheat, steal and yes, harm each other, and those who do such things give it no thought whatsoever. They do not consider the fact that someone had to work hard for that money. They do not consider that it is a major pain to replace a driver’s license or to play phone tag with the bank trying to cancel a debit card and then replace it. In fact, they give no thought whatsoever that doing something like that is just plain wrong. They simply see an opportunity to steal and they do it. Period!
I wish I was more like Bev. I really do. I wish I didn’t walk down the street guarded, and I wish I still had my rose-colored glasses on so I could see more vibrant colors of hope rather than muted colors of suspicion. Luckily I am married to Bev, and she balances me out, and somehow we make it work. Mr. Tainted hand-in-hand with Mrs. Pollyanna, skipping down life’s highway happily ever after.
And Now to the Point of This Reflection
Yes, people will disappoint you. I mean come on, there are what, over seven billion people on this planet; it stands to reason that a few of them might be a bit unsavory. So why should we be surprised when someone takes advantage of a situation and walks off with a wallet? Why should we be surprised when someone runs a scam and bilks pensioners out of their earnings? Why should we be surprised when people lie and cheat?
That’s what people do, right? So be extra careful, and lock your doors, and trust less. Look on others with a jaundiced eye, and don’t trust anyone you don’t know extremely well, and spend the rest of your lives looking over your shoulder just in case the Boogie Man is rapidly approaching. That’s how we should live our lives, right; always distrustful and always on-guard….that’s just life in the 21st Century, right?
Well yes, you could live like that. Quite frankly no one would blame you if you did.
Here’s the Problem
Bev is back to normal today. She is smiling and whistling and dancing to the music, and it is a joy to see. She told me that the twenty dollars she lost was probably needed more by the person who took it, and she probably would have just wasted it on something that really wasn’t needed. In fact, we rebounded from the disappointment by adopting a dog from the rescue shelter, a lovely, ten-year old Australian Shepherd named Holly, and we spent yesterday thoroughly enjoying Holly and forgetting about the sour experience on Saturday.
Yes, we could be bitter, but the problem with bitterness is that it will eventually infect our very being.
Yes, we could be distrustful of everyone, but the problem with distrust is that it will eventually infect our very being.
Yes, we embrace the dark cloud that befell us on Saturday, but the problem with that dark cloud is that it grows in size and eventually will cover everyone we meet.
And that is no way to live a life!
Life Goes On
A funny thing happened to me this past weekend. Instead of the thievery infecting me, and making me even more distrustful of my fellow man, I was instead infected by Bev’s attitude of forgiveness and compassion.
Instead of turning my back on those who are down and out, I was left reflecting on what it must be like to have nothing and to be hungry and hurting. What must it be like to be homeless and have no food or shelter? What must it be like to have grown up with the promise of a good life only to have circumstances beat you down to the point of tossing aside your principles and stealing?
And do you know what’s really funny about it all?
I was once homeless. Isn’t that hilarious? I was once down and out, and I was once hungry and hurting. I once saw my promises shattered and my dreams disappear…..but I had forgotten what it was like….until a thief took Bev’s wallet and stole twenty bucks….and then I remembered very clearly.
Yes my friends, people will disappoint you….if you let them.
Today I prefer to be reflective on such occasions, and to learn from them. I would love it if we all lived in harmony but that just isn’t going to happen. I would love it if my loved ones were not hurt and disillusioned, but that is not going to happen either. There are just too many of us on this planet, and not everyone plays by the same rules of decency and honesty, and yes that is sad, and yes it will make us angry at times….but……
It must never change who we are!
This world needs more compassion and not less.
This world needs more empathy and not less.
This world needs more love and not less.
And that is your responsibility….and mine!
Let’s do it!
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)