Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Impulse To Blame

The urge to blame someone- anyone- when our plans are disrupted or things go badly is. . . . well, it’s human, but often not very helpful. Years ago, running between work and mothering, always a little behind with just a bit more on my daily to-do list than could be accomplished, I often screeched to a halt just in time to make dinner. On one occasion, a little too late in the day, I made a tuna casserole and went to finish responding to emails as it baked in the oven. Too soon the timer rang. I zipped into the kitchen, telling my youngest son Nathan, then fourteen, to set the table. In one smooth motion, like some kind of Olympic speed skater, I skimmed across the kitchen floor while putting on oven mitts, pulled the oven door open, grasped the casserole, and swung around to put it on a pad on the table. And I dropped it. The glass shattered. Steaming tuna and macaroni spewed across the floor tiles. I stood with my mouth open and my eyes wide, unable to look away and overwhelmed with feelings of disbelief and frustration. But before I could even make a sound, Nathan- in a brilliant effort to avoid being targeted unfairly simply because he was the only other person in the room- said with feeling, “Oh no! Who can blame for this?” And all my anger evaporated in laughter. Nathan’s words became my mantra for those times when I’ve found myself semi-consciously fuming about things beyond my control that were messing with my carefully laid plans. Stuck in a traffic jam, late for an appointment: who can we blame for this? Cat threw up outside my bedroom right where I’d step in it as I started my day: who can we blame for this? It never fails to help me take a breath and smile. Oh, I know there are situations for which someone could and hopefully will be held accountable. (If you are looking for examples I’d recommend seeing the movies, “Spotlight” and “The Big Short.”) But even when this is true, unless we are personally in a position to make this happen, life is more easily savoured when we can let go of the blaming and move into what needs to be done. Generally, life is better when we can laugh a little, take a deep breath, scrape the hot tuna off the floor, and start again. ~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House (c) 2016

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Getting By With A Little Help

Tell me about a time when kindness touched you and made it possible to face the unknown with hope. Years ago, physically depleted and confused, I braved the drifting snow and drove into the city. I had no plan, I only knew I had to do something. I was becoming increasingly ill and isolated in the rural property I shared with my then-husband. 
Intuitively, I drove to a neighbourhood I knew near the University of Toronto. Parking on a side street, I thought, "Now what?" I phoned a friend who lived nearby. She was at work, but her husband, Jim- who I did not know well at all- answered. I mumbled something about being in the city. . . .not being sure why. . . . and wondering what to do. 
Without hesitation Jim invited me to drive over to their apartment building, saying he'd arrange for me to park there. When I arrived, the doorman directed me to the parking garage, and Jim came downstairs with a printed list of apartments for rent in the area.
I wasn't sure i was looking to rent something in the city, and if I was what that would mean for my marriage or my life. But I spent the day looking at apartments and, to my surprise, I gained energy as the day went on.
The thing is, what touched me most that day, was how Jim- this man I barely knew- had responded. He had not treated me as if I was crazy, had not tried to sort out my confusion or solve my problems. He'd offered what he could- a place to park (no small thing in downtown Toronto) and a suggestion of places to look at so I could explore my options. He was kind, and his kindness was a reminder that I was not on my own, that I was connected to and supported by the Life we share.
I think we tend to underestimate how small acts of kindness can make a big difference. We sometimes feel we need to find or give complete answers when, in fact, there are no once-and-for-all answers There's just life, in all it's wonderful messiness filled with opportunities to extend or receive the kindness that helps us through.  
~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House (c) 2016

I looked at this beautiful photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming and thought- if kindness had colours this would be it.