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Do You Nourish Or Tarnish - 2011/04/21
Some people, of course, are more like the full glare of the midday sun at the height of Summer. Too much exposure and you are burned out - damaged, and unable to function normally. But good friends, really good friends, will recharge your batteries and lift your spirits.
There are others, though, who aren't like that. They see only what's theirs, see only their own position, their own situation, their own rights, their own entitlement.
As an example, today I went out to buy a litre of milk from the local store. It was surprisingly busy, and I settled myself at the end of one of the two long queues, ready to think about one of the many problems I keep in mind for such times.
The lady immediately in front of me, though, looked at her laden trolley, piled high, and gestured for me to go ahead. I was slightly startled, but pleased. All those times I've done the same, and here I am being repaid. We had a small exchange of banter, and I moved ahead.
The lady now in front of me also had a very full trolley. I smiled, and said - "Would you mind if I went ahead of you? This is all I have." She smiled in return and said "Not at all." So again, I moved ahead one.
This seemed to be working, so I said to the third lady, again, also with an extremely full trolley (although mostly unpacked onto the conveyor) and said, "This is all I have - would you mind if I jumped ahead?"
"Yeah, well, there's a queue," she repeated.
I got the message. "There is no way you'll win this." said the rational, cynical, pessimistic part of my brain.
Now, you'd think that I'd just stay there,
having got ahead as much as I had, but it
just didn't feel right. In truth, I didn't
really want to be near this third
I don't know. I can't say. But I felt, well, tarnished by the interaction. I felt diminished by the response.
I wonder how she felt. I wish I hadn't asked.
Just as there are those who enrich the lives, even just by a little, of those with whom they have contact, there are people who tarnish the souls of those they meet. No doubt this woman simply thinks it was improper for me to have asked at all, but I've always felt that life's a lot nicer when people make time and space for each other. Even for strangers.
Especially for strangers.
And I try to do the same. I try to make life a little easier and better for those around me. I'll make small sacrifices for larger returns, even when those sacrifices are mine, and the returns go to others. I don't even ask that life is fair. To mis-quote The Man in Black in The Princess Bride: Life's not fair, and anyone who says otherwise is selling something.
So I just try to make it better in small ways.
So what about you? When someone interacts with you, are their souls tarnished?
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