The Jerk Next Door
Something about a negative headline generates interest. “The Jerk Next Door” seems catchy enough. It makes you want to read about trouble and what is wrong with the world. If a bad mood exists already, it seems like this article will validate the emotion of a bad day.
This article, however, is not about the jerk next door. In fact, there is no jerk next door. All of my neighbors are actually pretty decent people. Most of your neighbors are too.
But, now that you have clicked on the link, just a brief thought. A story about what we see in the world. That woman that cut you off in traffic, the cashier that does not value your business like you believe she should, or even your best friend who you no longer trust.
We tend to walk around with judgments. Judgments are more than opinions and form our beliefs. What we believe, affects the way we see the world. How we see the world, affects the world we see.
Whenever I am tempted to comment on another’s behavior or become offended by something that was said, I ask myself, “if everything was going right in my life, would it matter? Would I be upset about Whataburger forgetting my fries, if I had just won the lottery? Would I go on and on about how insensitive a person was, if just found out the results of a cancer screening were negative?”
The second question I ask, is this. If more important things were happening, would I be offended? This may seem morbid, but consider this. Would I be quick to judge the actions of a conceited teenage waitress, if I had just lost my daughter to an overdose? Would my opinion of Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen Whatever, be so negative if my son had been killed by a drunk driver?
We all believe we know what is best, but do we? We all believe we are kind, but are we? Most of us go around with some idea, of who deserves what in life, but is that real? What if we had no opinion at all? Would the world suffer?
I have often said, that it is not up to me to convince people to be grateful, but it is for me to show people gratitude. We respond to others in turmoil by trying to convince them that everything will be alright. We say things like, “look on the bright side” or “everything happens for a reason”. None of that helps, because you cannot see those things from certain mindsets.
People must go through their own “stuff”. Our loved ones, those we meet, and even we, must experience life. When things are joyous, we express joy. When things are mournful, we mourn. We must emote. Simple. Easy peasy.
There is, however, something we can do to prepare for joy and mourning. In the silence that exists between such moments, we may remain grateful. We may offer acts of kindness, not as if we have a banking account of good deeds (karma), but as a way of life. If we can muster the courage to face the day, we can find the courage to help others along the way.
Even this advice assumes that we will find the courage to face the day. Some people cannot. Some people struggle to make it through the worry and the fear.
Gary Vaynerchuck put out a video a while back, that said, “we must only be as happy as the most unhappy person around us.”
That is a paraphrase.
What in the world is going on? Gary Vaynerchuck owns Vayner media. He works in several businesses and has gazillions of followers. I believe he meant well. He may have felt like it was some form of compassion, and lately, he is heavy on kindness, empathy, and compassion.
If you have read the blog for any length of time, you understand by now, that my “inspiration” comes from many sources. This next bit of inspiration comes from Wyclef Jean, ironically, from a song called Riot. It is featured as the second song on his Carnival Vol. II album from the early 2000’s. I recommend it.
“Lamps of varied sizes and shapes carrying different shades
All having the propensity to illuminate”
It should be noted, that there are a host of songwriters listed for this song, but Wyclef Jean is not among them. I am not even sure he actually sings that part, but he used his celebrity status to lay down some deep thoughts and spread it around the world. That is good in my book.
Various religious thinkers have spoken on our “light”. Countless authors have written about the light within. But here it is, that we are “lamps of varied sizes and shapes, carrying different shades, all having the propensity of illuminate.”
Simply stated, it is not for me to change your lampshade. It is not for me to ask you to intensify your brilliance.
Jesus spoke about not covering your light, which is all fine and dandy, but Christianity seems to have done nothing but extinguish lights that become brighter than the glow of the church (no ill-intent to Christianity, it is human nature). We are all light. We are all energy made manifest in a world full of energy.
Our thoughts are energy. Our actions are energy. We cannot create or destroy light (or energy), but we might be able to bend and transform it. What we can do is shine.
All of the thoughts around this whole notion can be summed up by a verse my mother sang when I was a child. “This little light of mine… I’m gonna let it shine… this little light of mine… I’m gonna let it shine. Hide it under a bushel? No. I’m gonna let it shine.”
The proverbial jerk next door, might be a light, but she may have had people trying to put her light out for years. The proverbial jerk next door, might be shining dimly, but might just need a little light in his life to see that it can be done. Our babies, our youth, our elderly, our contemporaries… they are all lights, which can illuminate.
Will you allow their lights to shine? Will you help them light up the world, or will you try to dim their light so you might seem more bright? I want you to shine. I want to shine. Please focus on what you can do to shine instead of throwing bushels on the lights of others. We are in this thing together… every one of us.