AND Consider the Impact

November 30th, 2014

I am fascinated by the decisions we make in our lives. Knowing that, as Buddhism teaches, suffering is the price we pay for our attachments, I find myself watching attachments that cause me to respond to situations with frustration. Attachments usually become clear whenever we hold expectations about things will happen or should happen.

One area where I am learning about personal expectations and attachments is in the area of personal property. I am under (the apparently mistaken) impression that when we pay for something, it becomes our personal property. And when it is personal, as opposed to shared, property, no one else is entitled to use it without permission. This is clearly an attachment that can cause great frustration if you live near the water.

I continue to be astounded by people who know that they don’t own the property and yet use it. When I looked out the window to find two women walking up the stairs onto my property, I watched. They proceeded to walk over to a bench on my property and sit there.

Today I went to the front of my house and found a car parked in the driveway. I yelled, Hello to find out whose it was. No answer. I waited, walked around the house, and looked everywhere. No people. I called the police who offered to send an officer. I would need to call a tow truck, if I wanted to get out of my driveway, as it was completely blocked by the guest car. Thankfully no emergency required that I leave the house immediately.

The people returned, saw me on the deck and proceeded to apologize. Their reason for parking in my driveway? We didn’t think anyone was home. (I live yards from an open and free parking lot.) This is the common response from people who sit in front of the house in the summer with all their belongings for the day, or pull into the driveway and won’t move to let me in or out of my driveway until they have unloaded their car. Why does it matter whether anyone is home? Being home or not is not license, last time I checked, for others to use or claim otherwise personal property.

As I step back to clarify how much energy such behavior of others is worth, I am struck by the difference between how visitors behaved in my neighborhood when I was a child and how they behave now. Perhaps the expectations no longer hold. Perhaps I am a casualty of responses to people living at the beach, where others focus only on their convenience, with little or no regard for those who make a home here. As I write this, I am acutely aware that what I am describing is not the issue. This is not about personal property.

It is about becoming an unconscious society whose members think only of our own convenience instead of those we impact by our choices. It is time to pause and see the people we affect by our choices. Tiny, seemingly insignificant choices, can have a strong impact on other people and their lives. It is a time for both compassion and consideration of the impact of our choices. It is time to ask ourselves whether our planned actions will negatively impact others. Consideration of others leads to greater community and healthy neighborhoods where it is more natural to welcome others and their differences than protect ourselves from them.

One Response to “AND Consider the Impact”

  1. Michelle, Adry and Christine says:

    Sending you a big hug!!!

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