Dealing With Other People’s Sh**

I have a pretty great life, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t run into people that bug the shit out of me. Hell, I’m related to a number of people that drive me nuts, and I still love them. I live in this world and people tend to be a common occurrence when traveling through this life. Getting along with others is necessary and a good life skill to have. That’s why we teach it to children, not that they really listen.

I have found my own way of dealing with other people’s oddities. It’s actually something I’ve been good at for years, as long as I don’t let my temper get in the way. I can usually see things from other people’s point of view. I try to see things and understand situations from where they are, not from where I am. It’s not always easy to be as unreasonable as others. My own unreasonableness is so much better.

So today I had the privilege of conversing with a not-so-stable fellow. Let’s call him Mr. E. He was very kind and seemed quite sad and had an idea to save the town of Paradise that he just couldn’t quite explain, at least in a way I could fully understand. That’s saying a lot, considering I have a 5 year old always explaining things in weird ways. I did my best with Mr. E and after about 45 minutes a co-worker saved me from this one-sided conversation.

Mr. E caught me on a good day and though most my days are good days, 45 minutes of “prophetic” communication drove me to coffee and writing. I know the direction this could have taken and I’ve learned how to let things go. While he was here and telling me everything, I gave him what he needed: time, coffee and someone to hear him. When he left I gave myself what I needed: time, coffee and a chance to get this off my chest. We really aren’t that different from one another.

I know Mr. E doesn’t see the world the way I do, and so I didn’t place that burden on him. He has the weight of his world, and his mind, already on his shoulders. I’d be a really crappy person to force him to be any other way, so I gave him the space to be Mr. E. I’m also pretty sure he wasn’t trying to make my day hard or place any undue burden on me. That is the main reason I was kind to him. It also reminds me of a story. I’ll shorten it for you here:

There once a monk who was being interviewed. The interviewer didn’t believe in the lifestyle of the monk and so the conversation turned into a criticism of the monk. Throughout this interview the monk’s smile never wavered. Finally the interviewer became so fed up at the monk’s non-reaction that he asked “Why do you smile while I am talking badly about your beliefs?” The monk replied “When you bring a gift to someone and they don’t take it, who is left holding the gift?” “Well, I guess I am.” said the interviewer. “Exactly” said the monk’s smile as he walked away from the interview. 

I have no idea who wrote this.

I love this story. This is basically how you should deal with others. Their shit is not your shit, and you don’t have to take anything from them or join them in any way. It’s so simple, and yet we still get pulled into others’ messes. I used to think that others’ issues were mine when I first started seeing things from their perspective. Quickly their burdens and views became my own. Not anymore.

Now I have figured out that I can be open to other views, but not have to take them for truth, or for my own. I don’t even have to accept my own thoughts and opinions as truth. The likelihood that it’s all wrong anyway is a huge relief. Observe and carry on. Just as I allowed Mr. E to talk, explain, have passion for and emotion about the things of importance in his life, I allow others to do the same. I do this without being burdened with their struggles. Show compassion, yes, but I am not here for others to lay their troubles on. I’m here to learn from my own burdens.

What shit do you need to give back? Try it. I think you’ll like it.


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