It’s hard to scroll through facebook. I see posts about how annoying it was that the line at the DMV was long, obscure post about life being terrible, annoyances at phone issues, the weather, starbucks getting an order wrong. I read these and want to reply with, “I watched my house burned down.”
I’ve known for a long time that at any given time, everyone has their thing. Their all consuming thing. The thing that controls their mood, takes over their day and steals their joy. I lost a lot in that fire. I have a lot of guilt and we both have a lot of emotional junk to work through.
My house burned down.
I watched it.
My dog died.
We cannot go home.
I left the candle burning.
I almost lost my husband.
My all consuming thing is this.
My body and mind are responding to this in ways I’ve never experienced. Anxiety, panic attacks, inability to focus. If my mind is not consumed with other tasks, it ALL consumes me. I cannot look at Facebook because of the line at the DMV, the obscure posts, it all feels so trivial to me in this time. But I know it’s your big thing. And because it’s your’s, and you’ve decided that it’s big, it has every right to be big in your life.
Then I think of my friend. My sweet, wonderful friend who suddenly lost her son. I think of the pain I feel and I think of her and it all, the fire, Sam, the stuff, it all seems trivial in comparison to her loss. I did not lose Bill, I did not lose Issa. That is a loss I cannot comprehend. It is a loss I have considered because it came so close, Bill should have died in his sleep. It is a loss that would have broken me.
I think of my friend and I wonder if she sees what I’m going through and thinks about how trivial it is in comparison to her own. I know her heart, and I’m sure this is not the case, but I wonder.
Long ago, someone told me that you choose your offense. You are the only one that can control what you are offended by. That stuck with me. It stuck with me in a way that when I went to the DMV or the Post Office I went with the assumption that there would be a long line and cranky folks. I walk in and I smile at them. I play with Issa in the line. I try to make small talk with people. It’s all about perspective, and it’s a choice.
In the same light, that cranky person might be cranky about something completely unrelated to the long line. They could have just fought with their kids. Maybe they just got a divorce. Their house could have burned down. They might have their thing that has nothing to do with the current circumstances.
I sat in a busy restaurant a week after the fire and looked around at all the people eating dinner. Some were with families, some were on dates, one or two were alone at the bar. I watched them with new eyes. I saw them not as a crowd, not as noise or annoyances, but as individual human beings, each with their own individual thing. I wanted to smile at each of them. I wanted to hug them.
What if, what if we all walked around with the realization that everyone at every moment has their thing they are working through. Sometimes it’s a big thing, sometimes it’s a little thing. But if we could all experience life with the knowledge of this, and interact with people in a perspective of love, would we be a better human race?
And, what if, what if we had perspective on our things. What if we thought about that long line at the DMV or whatever that obscure ‘life is terrible’ post is really about and placed perspective on the situation. What if we didn’t allow those small annoyances so much power?
I’ve learned so much so far through this experience. A huge one is the things that bothered me before, the things that stressed me out or ruined my day, do not really matter. They aren’t remotely important in the perspective of life. I’m ashamed that they ever consumed so much energy and joy, but of one thing I am certain, they never will again. That, and I will smile more often at people because they deserve it.