How dare you?

Recently, someone I know spent a great deal of time trying to talk a friend out of getting a divorce. She was convinced that this divorce would be the worst possible thing her friend could do. She applied a lot of pressure and created a ton of doubt. The jury is still out as to whether she changed her friend’s mind.

But the whole time this was going on, I was thinking, “How dare you?”

First of all, you have no idea what goes on behind closed doors in any relationship. And it’s not for you to decide how someone else is to live life. Even if what that person is doing seems like a monumental mistake, it could be the catalyst that brings on greater things for him or her in the future. At the very least, the experience may be an important life lesson. The choices one makes are what shape that individual. You don’t have the right to determine someone else’s shape.

In my opinion, the only time you should try to intervene in another person’s decision-making process is when that person is contemplating suicide. Because that’s the one choice in life from which one cannot turn back. Give your opinion about other things if asked, yes. But don’t get all definitive unless someone is about to step off a cliff.

I came by this belief the hard way. Once, I was in a relationship that was making my life so miserable that I decided it was time to move on. I had all my stuff packed. I had decided what to say. I was ready.

And then I made the mistake of telling my oldest sister. And she screamed at me. Because she liked the guy.

At the time, my self esteem was so low that that was all the discouragement I needed. Maybe she was right. Maybe this was a huge mistake. I mean, he was a nice guy. A great guy. Was it his fault that he left me feeling unfulfilled and alone? Was it his fault that I felt as though we had no common goals, that we were working toward nothing, and that our future would forever be exactly the same as our dreary present? Was it his fault that I felt more like his mother than his partner? It’s not like he beat me or cheated on me. What were the odds that I’d wind up with anyone better?

And so, with tears in my eyes, I unpacked. And he never knew. And we stayed together for another 12 long, miserable, unsatisfying years. What a waste. What an unbelievable waste. For both of us, because he certainly deserved more, too. It’s one of my biggest regrets.

Discouragement is an interesting word, when you think about it. It basically means that you are taking away someone’s courage. No one has a right to do that. Ever.


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My Flying Messenger

At work I often sit with the window open. I enjoy the fresh air, and it also makes it easier to hear the boats if they use their horns to signal that they want me to open the drawbridge. Just outside the window is a large metal box that used to house some past machinery. Since then it’s often been commandeered as a bird’s nest.

One day I was sitting at the desk, engrossed in my laptop, probably writing a blog entry, when I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked over, and there was a starling sitting on the counter.

“Oh, my. Hello,” I said. “Uh… shoo?”

The bird just looked at me. I thought that if I walked calmly toward him, perhaps he would fly back out the window.

But no. My approach caused the bird to panic and flutter against the walls and ceiling, and then he flew down the stairwell, which, in this case, was a dead end. The only way I could get to the door to let him out that way was to corner him, and I knew that wasn’t going to work.

What to do. What to do. How was I going to get that bird out of there without hurting him? I thought about throwing a towel over him to pick him up. But he was already stressed enough without my trying that sort of ambush.

Then I thought, “Wait a minute. This bird has survived without your intervention up to this point. Maybe you ought to just let him figure out his own path.” So I went back to the desk, sat down, and resumed typing. I had an 8 hour shift ahead of me. Surely the little guy would find the window in that amount of time.

And sure enough, he did.

As he flew away I realized that bird had brought a lesson with him. Maybe I don’t have to fix everything. Maybe sometimes I ought to let nature take its course. Maybe I don’t always know best.

Sometimes I need a reminder of these things.

It just goes to show that you can’t predict how life lessons will show up at your door.

Common Starling. [Image credit: markfergusonaudio.com]
Common Starling.
[Image credit: markfergusonaudio.com]