Sunday, May 10, 2015

Who's got your goat?

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"Every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.  If someone hurts us and we are sore, we are in the wrong also."  - William Wilson

"I refuse to give others rent-free space in my head."  Debbie DeJong

     A while back I stopped into a fish packing plant to take photos and gather information for an article.  I arrived shortly after daybreak - besides the owner and the manager, none of the other workers were there.  They had two boats to unload that day, and prospects were good for getting photos that accurately depicted what the work was all about.  About eight o'clock the workers arrived and started getting ready to unload the ship and pack the fish for shipment to auction.  Work soon commenced, and I was able to capture each step of the way.

     Within an hour it was clear that they were short handed.  Baskets of fish that needed packed in boxes were backing up, and I heard the owner ask a local crab fisherman if he felt like working in the packing house for a day.  The fisherman told him no way - his work was hard enough.  I asked if he wanted me to help, and with a relieved look he asked if I would start shoveling ice.

     There were over 7 tons of fish that had to make their way into big cardboard boxes, and I started shoveling a layer of ice into each empty box, then putting a layer of ice atop the fish after they went in, then packing down the ice and putting lids on the boxes.  We finished that ship about noon, and right on its heels another pulled up to the dock.  This one was finished about four pm - so I had shoveled ice steadily for at least six hours.

     About four thirty I sat down - a good bit worn out.  After a few minutes the ice delivery truck came and I walked over to get a few shots.  "We have work to do around here" said the owner.  "Haven't you gotten what pictures you need yet?  Its time to move down the road" he said to me.

     I was initially a bit surprised, but maintained my composure and merely replied that I just needed a few more shots.  I hung around for another five minutes or so, took a few photos of the delivery truck and went on my way.

     Now, I had not asked for money, and even though it is always in short supply on the road I felt more like I was just doing the right thing by helping than expecting to be compensated.  But as soon as he said that the thoughts started - I could have easily fired off my mouth and developed a long term resentment against this man.  And my resentment would not have hurt him a bit - he would have laughed about how he got over on me for some free labor and then booted me down the road.

     Yes, people do and say things that can get our goat - and we can feel fully justified in our resulting anger.  But we have choices.  I choose to believe that others are doing the best they can with what they have.  I believe we are spirits having a human experience - each with our own path.  Yes, our paths cross, but our journeys ultimately are solitary affairs.  And when someone "wrongs me" like this I can look at the underlying spiritual laws and feel empathy for them rather than anger.  You see, if I give freely, you cannot steal from me.  And even if you could, everything comes full circle like a boomerang and you will pay your own price for your deceit - whether you ever become aware of it or not.  On the other side of the coin, I find that I cannot outgive God, and when I give freely of myself I always receive more than I gave.

     And so I bear no grudge for this man, and I don't have any thoughts that I wish I hadn't helped him or hopes that somehow he is retaliated against.  I am free to move down the road, and in fact later that very evening a man asked me if I wanted some work repairing a dock.  He paid me well, in cash, and several times over the next few days people went out of their way to buy me meals with no prompting from me.  I am free, but if my experience from my days of spiritual sickness are any indicator, he is still convinced that he has to do unto others before they do to him.  I don't wish that on him - it is a lonely and miserable way to live.

      Each of us is capable of and responsible for maintaining our own peace of mind.  We each alone - as an individual and fully by ourselves - determine if we live in peace or chaos.  Let's do ourselves a favor and choose to live today in freedom.

Today, may I opt for peace.  

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