My neighbor (82 year old widow) is experiencing a number of uncomfortable issues in her life. She and I are close in an odd sort of way – it’s an energetic thread of connection tho we don’t “do” much of anything together. I carry her trash to the curb; she makes us mango and banana bread from the fruit in her yard.
The other morning I was reflecting on the multi-generational drama that is occurring in her family, her new cancer diagnosis, etc., and just as I was asking myself, “How much do you want to be involved in all that Rox?” I started being flooded with a powerful new take on awareness and sensitivity.
Historically, out there in the culture and here in my typical behavior set, the sensitive people have to defend themselves chronically against feeling all the world’s pains and traumas. If you are aware, then there is this cultural imperative for what you must do and how you must feel. If you are aware and are not being reactive to other people’s problems then you don’t “really get it.”
Not any more! I can be sensitive even to very small details and signals, but I don’t have to let them affect me. I don’t have to be drawn in to other people’s dramas. I can sit on the sidelines and radiate compassion should I feel inclined, without getting further involved. I can also do nothing, by moving my attention to my own life and taking it off other people’s lives. Jackie taught me early on not to be a “nosy neighbor” and she is a beacon of “Live and Let Live.”
This is not cruel to me, in fact it is loving. It is based on the solid foundation that everyone is supported 100% by the universe, that each person is the Divine incarnate walking the earth. Who am I to think I am either more powerful or more responsible for the random things that affect other people?
Let’s look at some other fundamentals. When we put our attention on others, that is energy moving in their direction. If I am feeling pity, confusion, sadness, hopelessness for her, that is what I am sending. I remember when Magic Johnson was diagnosed being HIV positive. He pleaded with people NOT to feel sorry for him; he knew on some level that having all that pity aimed at him was not useful and he didn’t want it.
Of course this does not preclude me from being helpful when I am inclined, and my neighbor knows she can ask me for assistance any time. I have empowered her to be the one to decide when and how that might happen – not by me insinuating myself into her life. As it turns out, I take her to chemo treatments every two weeks. She asked AND I was available. She carries on as an independent woman in charge of her own life. It’s all good!
My sensitivity now feels sweet, private, liberated, and with no imperative to have to go out and do something. Instead, I trust that all is well. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of distance to get that, so my new mantra is “Rox, back away from the fence.”
Photo by Made in Mississippi on Flickr.