Friday, November 21, 2014

Dancing Around the Distinctions

Do you know that those who often have the least to give are the ones who give the most? So many people tell me they can't afford to help me, even when I ask for "just" $1. I understand it. I was once there myself. I was paying around $1400 in rent a month, had other expenses, and felt that *I* needed *my* money.

My heart went out to those in need. It really did. But, they must have family, friends and others who would/could help, right? Besides, if I "just" gave $1, I would seem to be so cheap, wouldn't I?

I sometimes would reach out with a heartfelt message that probably did little more than make me feel like I had actually done something. Looking at it now, I have to wonder if it was as annoying and frustrating to these people as it can be to me when others do that to me now.

It wasn't always like that. Sometimes I would try to extend myself in other ways that might be of benefit. There was someone who desperately needed a heart transplant. His sister was doing all she could to raise help for him. I offered to see what I could do hypnotically. I also spent hours online trying to help her/his cause. It wasn't anyone I knew personally, but it felt like the right thing to do.

While there were a few things that were happening, you could tell how frustrated and overwhelmed his sister was. At some point Trent Reznor got involved, and things took off in quite a significant way. But I could feel how almost useless my attempts were at trying to have some sort of impact.

As I look back, I wonder if I somehow wasn't personally invested enough. I wanted others to do what I hadn't done. At the same time, others might have been in a better position to do something financially than I was. Still. It was the idea that "someone else" would do something, and that in clicking, I was doing my part.

Now I am in a lot worse shape financially, and I have given money to Bambi, someone who has been in a worse predicament than me in some ways. She is currently homeless, and struggling to stay at a motel until housing can be found for her. And that may be the least of her issues, as she faces many medical concerns.

Bambi isn't the only one I have given to in the last couple of years. It isn't a lot. Many times it is "just" a $1. I got to the point that I felt I couldn't ask other people to do what I wasn't willing to do.

It is not that I give to everyone who asks, although if I could, I certainly would. I don't know that others can give to all people all the time, either. It can be a type of exhaustion when there are so many needs and causes that are asking for your support. I get it.

But. Here's the thing. Some people wind up never giving anything, of themselves - or otherwise. They are caught up in their lives and in the idea that they can't afford it. It is one thing to not want to give. It is another thing to not be able to. And every time you say you "can't" is not likely a "unable" moment, too.

I say this in part because I really am in no position to help others - certainly in a lesser place than before - but I still have. I hope the fact that I share that I have done this doesn't dissuade others from helping me because they think I will be giving their money away to someone else. I hope that they understand that what I am doing is trying to create a bigger picture of compassion for those in need, and to create a case that could help not only me, but others. There are way too many people in predicaments of all types who need help and aren't getting it.

There are all kinds of reasons we can give ourselves and others for not making a choice that can positively impact another. There are all kinds of mental calculations and judgments and assessments that can justify what we choose to do, or not do.

I had seen a video at one point of someone who had asked people eating pizza if they could have some. I don't remember the exact context of the video, but I believe in all cases, he was denied. He then had a homeless person given a pizza, and asked if he could have some, and the homeless person shared.

In another video, a guy was asking people for help. Many passed him up, but when he asked someone who turned out to be homeless, the guy "helped" him.

I have learned a lesson by standing where I stand that I never got before this. Did it take getting here to teach it to me? Might there have been an easier way?

I think about all of the stuff that people share and say. And much of it has a "feel good" or "feel ucky" quality to it, but then most likely go "aww" or "yuck" and then proceed merrily back into their lives without stepping back to consider what the bigger message is, or how the message of the video could have a greater impact.

It stops at, "oh wasn't that something?" Instead of being the beginning of a sentence, it is the punctuation at the end. It becomes a nice story to tell. It becomes a video to share. But rarely does it ever translate into something more than something yucky or nice to observe.

If I was going to make a broad statement, I'd say we have become a society of observers, many times being all too willing to be the spectators of other people's lives, often glad (if honest) that what is happening on the field over there doesn't directly involve us. Thankfully we can just drink our beer and place our attention on the cheerleaders.

I just know some people will hate that metaphor. Well. I hate the fact that it is a pretty apt metaphor for the not so pretty thing is stands for.

For over two years now I have often tip-toed around this subject. It is hard being the one in need. Everything you say - whether it is about you or not - is thought to be about you. It is much easier when someone else is involved; there is a much greater freedom to say things because it isn't about you. In some ways, it even becomes more a story about you, the person trying to help, than the person or situation you are trying to help. Somehow that might make the story more palatable, I guess.

It is hard on the toes and other things to walk around that way. Those who know me know that I often really say how I feel to them because they won't take offense at what I say. We dance around so much stuff in society, often never directly looking at the things that make us uncomfortable.

I write the things I write because I feel at the very least, we can look at things, and be honest about what they are, instead of fabricating the types of things that keep us from acknowledging reality, including the fact that anything we communicate about that we don't want to deal with is considered negative and should somehow be shunned, changed or in some way corrected.

I have often said I want to be in people's faces, and it is not because I want them to be antagonized or angry. It is because I want them to have a chance of seeing something they may otherwise miss. My friend Sherri often has told me how she wasn't sure about me at first. But she was willing to get past what she felt, and get to know me. As a result, it seems we have an incredible relationship that works quite well for both of us.

Sometimes things have to be in our face to see them. All I can do is ask you to look. You can choose to do whatever you like with what you see...but please just look. Please consider looking at the things that make you uncomfortable. Sadly, we just never know when we might be in the circumstances we tried so hard to avoid. We just never know when everything we have might seem to fall apart. We just never know when all the things we thought were real and permanent and enduring will show just how unreal and uncertain they are.

I wish I had had more understanding of things before I was so deeply immersed in them. And yet, because I was not, it does allow me the perspective of knowing just how uncomfortable my conversations can often be. I can't really think of many - if any - times I saw messages like mine before all of this. Would it have mattered? Would it have made a difference? It is hard to say, but I do wonder.

I also wonder if anyone pays attention to the things I write about. I am told by some how profound and objective some of my posts are. I know people are paying attention in some way. This blog has had over 50,000 views at this point. People are showing up for some reason.

We owe it to ourselves to be honest. It isn't comfortable, but maybe over time we can get better about it if we don't feel so awkward about it.

One thing I have heard way too many times is that this is the "real world." "This" is the world we live in. There is a level of acceptance there that "should" probably not be there. Why do we allow ourselves to accept the things that really aren't working? Why do we do a collective shrug, and just keep going, only to be jarred awake when we run into the very things we have avoided or judged or...?

Nothing will change if we don't give ourselves the benefit of being honest (at least with ourselves) about what we do or don't do.

Be honest about why you do or don't do something. Be aware of who you are doing it for. Do your words really have meaning for the other person, or do they just make you feel better? Stop. Look. Listen. Take some sort of Action. More often.

I cannot tell you what a difference being able to speak my mind makes. Yes. It does suck at times. But it is amazing to be able to speak things as they are. We really have to work at separating out the judgments of the things from the things themselves to be able to be more free about the things.

And, that, my friends - as you can likely guess - goes for just about anyone or anything.

I have tried to re-read this a couple of times. My mind feels a bit "blurry." It has been a very emotional and rocky and exhausting couple of days. It took everything I had to get out of bed, and I haven't been able to really accomplish much.

I hope that somewhere in this post there is something that will be heard, and has some value. I was told today that I have the earmarks of a "revolutionary." I don't know what I think of that. I just feel like a person who is trying desperately to survive. I am so overwhelmed, though, there are times lately I feel my brain just wanting to not have to make another decision, and it feels like it just wants to shut down.

For that reason, I hope I have made sense in what I have written. I would like to say that I hope I haven't really upset anyone in the process, but I am pretty certain there will be those who will not appreciate where I have come from while writing it.

I was much angrier and more emotional when I started it. Now I just want to sleep. At the very least, perhaps it served a purpose by allowing me a release. I certainly wouldn't mind it being more, though, especially if it could be helpful in some way - especially for the Big Picture.

Some people say they want to make the "WORLD" a better place, but they often ignore or walk by or overlook the immediate opportunities to make a difference for the individuals it is comprised of. How can you fix the seeming big things when you ignore the seemingly small ones?

If you want to make a difference in the world, consider starting with something small. Maybe do a bunch of small things. So many will do nothing because they think they have to build up to something large, or they're waiting for the perfect person, time or opportunity.

What if things are so much more perfect than you give them credit for? What if people in situations like mine are golden opportunities that are often missed?

And then again. You might just want to live your life, and your choices don't mean anything, other than what the choice was. That's OK, too. We all need to do what feels right and best for us. We just have to be a bit careful about accepting what those things are, especially when it can potentially take us away from ourselves and some greater opportunities.

How do we know when those times are? We don't, really. But if we listen, we will get better about knowing when we should make the effort to do things differently instead of staying in auto-pilot. All planes must land sooner, or later, or they run out of gas and crash. We might think we can just keep going as we are, but sooner or later something may tell us otherwise. Hopefully we listen without having to crash first.

And, yes, this message is very much about me, but please don't limit it to that piece of the puzzle. To do that is to ignore the much greater picture of the world...the one that will continue to exist whether I do, or not. It is as much about you as it is about me as it is about our neighbors, families and friends.

Anything I say make sense? What can you do to ACT on it?

As always, thank you for reading.

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