Sometimes I truly struggle with loving people, despite my own realizations that loving others is the only way I can know that I properly love myself.
This column was nearly titled, "It's Called a Snow Shovel" or, "It's Called a Pedestrian" or, "It's Called Watching the Road"! I will admit that I become aggressive when I am shown all of these mirrors of inconsiderate behavior. I find myself constantly criticizing the very things I wish to change about society, when what I should be doing is changing myself first!
Even though I don't text and drive, instead of judging those who do, I should be blessing them for showing me that my eyes need to be on my own road and not on anybody else's. It's a metaphor for life but it is also very important that it be taken literally.
If we are ever mindful of the needs of others, we will find ways to do what we can to make the lives of others better. Just like the parent on the airplane when the oxygen masks drop down, if we take care of ourselves first, we are better equipped to take care of others.
I wish more people would consider the mail carriers and delivery people, who need to actually reach the mailbox without dying or becoming permanently injured. Shovelling is an excellent way to ensure that anyone who comes to your house has a chance to return home to their loved ones without first having to stop in the emergency room.
Perhaps if consideration for the safety of others isn't on one's radar, the term 'law suit' should come to mind for those who think it is okay to just ignore the sheets of ice. There are all kinds of solutions and products, like salt, or sand, or the good old fashioned ice spade.
I don't mean to sound too condescending, but watching the road is also a great way to make sure you don't hurt anyone. I couldn't count the number of times that I have nearly been hit by a driver who then scowled at me for walking in a crosswalk.
In my neighbourhood, there are dogs who bark at me as though I am some sort of threat to the safety of their family. They don't even respond to my 'Care Bear Stare'!
Sometimes it is a real struggle for me to love the people who allow their dogs to bark at daily passersby, because it's scary to know a fence is the only thing between me and a vicious beast that evidently wants to rip my throat out!
It makes more sense that such a powerful sound be used only in the case of actual danger.
I can only imagine how much fear a family must live in all of the time, to be able to tolerate, or perhaps even encourage, the dog viciously barking at someone just for walking by their yard.
Some of my readers might recall the story I told last year about a well-trained dog, who only barked when it was life or death. Because she happened to be barking incessantly, she literally saved my life when I was a child. Because she didn't 'cry wolf', my dad had to investigate the cause of her distress. Any other yappy dog would have been ignored. It would have been chalked up as 'the usual' and my dad and I would not be here today.
Am I no different than the barking dog? Am I, on the inside, any different than the person who drives with reckless abandon, risking the lives of others, because I just want to get where I am going a few seconds sooner?
I don't consider life some sort of race to the finish line, but rather an enriching journey from one road to the next. Each road connects somehow, whether we can see it from Google Earth or not. The mycelium - the underground network of information-sharing fungal branches - has got it covered.
We, like the mycelium, must realize that we are connected, whether we want to be or not!
Being the change we wish to see in the world involves taking care of ourselves, so that we can take better care of others. Conversely, by not taking care of others, we are devaluing ourselves as well.
American author Stephen Vincent Benet said that "life is not lost by dying. Life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the small uncaring ways."
Let's take care of one another in the little ways, whether we know each other or not.