I was raking the lawn this afternoon in a most wonderful light and warmth. I looked up at a sky on fire with the colors of sunset and paused. How amazing.
After feeling like I somehow flew for a while near the clouds in perfect peace and freedom, I looked down and remembered the world we live in. I thought about all those eyes of dogs and cats on euthanasia lists that pass through my Facebook feed every day; all the rescues and miraculous recoveries, all the abuse that can’t be stopped yet; all the petitions and images of dolphins, elephants, lions, wolves; the amazing work at Soi Dog Foundation and so many other rescue organizations around the world; the successes of Operation Smile, Kiva and Doctors without Borders; the food, economic and human rights issues; all the politics. Beautiful stories, terrible stories.
What a difficult world we live in…
And then I thought that like many of you, I’ve been taught (and shown) that doing good, looking to make positive and honest choices for yourself and in respect to others costs you nothing…and gives you everything. Yes, it may take a bit more effort and yes, sometimes you do have to go out of your way and outside your comfort zone, but that’s what it means to live and grow…so it doesn’t count as a cost. You don’t lose, you gain: strength, experience, perspective, wisdom, peace, joy, freedom and authenticity.
It seems I’ve always heard my parents, two of my grandparents and other people close to me saying the same thing: “Why do harm when you can be kind and loving? Why kick when you can hug? Why settle when you can do more, dream big and live with your heart? It’s so much easier…it’s natural, it’s rewarding…it’s the only way.”
But then, whenever I asked, as a child and as an adult, why people do harm, are dishonest, manipulative, take shortcuts or settle, I got the same answer: “because it’s easier”.
Given my own issues and laziness, I totally understand cutting corners on occasion (especially when it comes to unpleasant stuff like bills and cleaning), procrastination and sometimes just shutting down for a bit because the mood and energy levels are not doing very well. I understand cranky, exasperated, and exhausted. I understand overwhelmed and snappy.
And obviously we all do our share of bad stuff to ourselves and others. Sometimes knowingly in lesser moments, sometimes because we truly don’t know any better. But once we recover from whatever lesser moments…once we look, learn and know better, we automatically move towards the positive and the constructive, don’t we?
Apparently not. But why? I don’t buy the “it’s easier” explanation.
Anytime I’ve come close or crossed the line on this kind of ‘easier’, I’ve been overcome by guilt and shame; experienced a sense of hopelessness and unhappiness that sank me. All these things are betrayals of ourselves, are they not? Not that we don’t all do it at times, but once we recognize what’s happening we work on fixing it.
How can anyone stand it otherwise? Ignorance is one thing, but to know, to have an opportunity, and do nothing? What can be worse than walking around dragging a soul filled with toxic heaviness? It’s so not ‘easier’.
And yet, there are those who know better, who are extremely intelligent and capable, who seek information and explore their options, yet don’t do anything with it all. Do they not care? Or are they too scared and too comfortable with a familiar level of discomfort?
I always stick with my belief that it’s all fear. Even when we’re manifesting some mild sociopathic tendencies. And quite by accident, I came across an article in Psychology Today about non-violent sociopaths (link below…and do read it!). It gave me quite the shock despite my having studied abnormal psychology and read quite a bit on the subject of sociopathy. But in the end, it was one sentence that stood out above all others: “I think my sociopathy was triggered largely because I never learned how to trust.”
There. It is fear.
After the lawn was clean, with the sprinklers running, I sat for a while looking once again at the darkening sky. It is not ‘easier’ to do harm, be dishonest, manipulative, take shortcuts or settle. It’s not easier to live without trust, blocked by fear from that essential connection we all need. It’s simply the only option available unless…unless we start somewhere and take a step forward.
One little step, one tiny spark of willingness towards discovering, through much practice with loving, what is truly easier, rewarding and ultimately, the only way. And not because there’s a rule about that somewhere…but because we all deserve it.
(The article: Confessions of a Sociopath: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201305/confessions-sociopath)