I was watching tv about a year ago when I stumbled upon a rather comical scene in an old movie. It caught not only my attention and ear but, it made me both chuckle and think at the same time.
“Do unto others as they do unto you,” a young boy said, practising what he thought was the way that statement was phrased from The Bible in “Life With Father”.
Most of us know by now that the most common quote is a few words more than this.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Somehow though, this young boy’s twist on this famous Bible quote felt more appropriate given what I had been dealing with for the most part of my life and struck me into a thinking mode.
Not consciously, I had been living my life according to the Biblical version rather than this young boy’s interpretation. I had been doing for others what I wish others would do for and with me. That’s not the way that it had gone, unfortunately. It was more akin to me giving and others taking. It has never balanced out the way that one would think it should and likely never will so, this boy’s incorrect quote gave me pause to stop and think about the way that Life works.
A short while later, I had flipped channels at the ending of the movie to find a comedy series, “The Middle” . It’s one of those shows where you have to take a light-hearted view of The Heck Family and their antics but there’s oftentimes some pretty cute anecdotes written into the scripts that leave the viewer with a sense of hope in spite of the dysfunction that goes on within the created family and episodes.
Frankie (Francis) Heck, the mom played by Patrica Heaton of “Everybody Loves Raymond” fame, had given up on trying to sell used cars and didn’t try. That’s when she sold a car. She preached and raved that the secret to everything was to “stop trying!”
Somehow, I had a feeling that the 2 ideas were connected in one way or another and were aiming their arrows straight at me. After all, I had been trying hard to treat others the way that I would like to be treated and I had been trying far too hard. Maybe, I had it all wrong? Perhaps, I was supposed to stop trying and treat others as they treated me? Was that the message? Maybe, The Universe/God/Higher Powers were talking to me through comical characters and situations via a television screen? Maybe, I need meds because I was thinking that Higher Consciousness would speak to me through a television?
It’s hard for me (and, I’m sure a lot of other people) to simply “stop trying” and “do unto others as they do unto you” but, there’s something in those 2 ideas that were sitting with a huge question mark in my stomach. They still are.
What if we were to reasonably do all that we can do then, simply stop trying any further? Is there a middle? (Pun intended).
What if we tried to treat others as we would want them to treat us but, if they didn’t, treat them the same way that they’d treated us? Again, pun intended, the middle.
I tried them out in real Life.
There’s a crotchety neighbour (the same age as I am) whom I’ve done somersaults to help out for over the 30 plus years that I’ve know her. She was nice as long as I was doing something for her but, the moment that I had a difference of opinion or couldn’t help her out, she’d turned on me in a nasty way instead of understanding that I simply disagreed with her viewpoint or couldn’t help her this one time. She was the perfect person to try this theory out with because she fit the criteria of my having tried too hard and the fact that she’d never lived according to the golden rule of doing unto others as you would have do unto you.
As I sat out on the front porch with a tea, ready to simply breathe and relax a bit after a full day’s work, this neighbour came up the street and plopped herself down in the chair beside me on my porch uninvited but typically for her. She began with her plethora of woes, tales of wrong-doings from others as well as demanding that I help her.
“Sorry, I can’t help you,” I answered nonchalantly. “I don’t even know these people so, you’re going to have to deal with them this time, on your own.”
There was a stoney silence for a moment or two. Actually, the break in her ramblings and rants was a bit refreshing. I wondered if it were possible to last. I knew the answer though and thus, it began.
“You’re not going to help me?” she asked in astonishment and shock that I was refusing to enter into her issues.
“No, sorry,” I responded to reaffirm what I had just said only a moment or so ago, recognizing that even though I would normally have tried, this time I couldn’t help her. She went off into a rant and yelled both obscenities as well as personal insults.
Normally, this would have set me off into a state of upset and panic at possibly having done something wrong and re-visiting whether or not I could help her. This time, as I was allowing my mind to run amok again, I suddenly heard Frankie Heck’s voice as well as that of the young boy from the movie. Stop trying and do unto others as they do unto you. A rage filled my inner being that threatened to erupt like a volcano, spewing its molten lava and ash but, I held back quite a bit.
“Leave my front porch!” I stated, loudly and firmly while pointing to the sidewalk.
“WHAT?” she screeched.
“You heard me. Leave now, please,” I retorted, still pointing to the sidewalk.
The shock on her facial expression and bodily language told me what she was feeling. She was both shocked and outraged at the same time. I could easily see that she had expected the same sort of reaction from me that she’d always had and didn’t like what she was getting this time. She hurled a few explicative curse words at me before getting up and storming off the porch. She continued more of them from the sidewalk and paced like a caged tiger, not knowing what else to do.
Part of me wondered whether she truly thought that her behaviour and actions, if said loudly and long enough, would change my mind. The other part was oddly both calm and about to laugh. It was as though I had a bad dream and was seeing the light of day in waking up as to how non-sensical it all had been. She continued by adding untrue accusations at this point, said loudly enough for the entire neighbourhood and passerbys to hear easily. I kept my cool and finished drinking my now, cold tea, something I would normally have offered to have made her but, didn’t this time. I wasn’t going to make her feel at home while she unloaded both herself and her anger, uninvited on my front porch this time. I wasn’t going to make it easy nor comfortable for her to abuse me as that’s what it boiled down to in all reality.
The yelling, pacing, cursing, swearing and accusation hurling went on for another several minutes. I simply sat there, letting her carry on, figuring that she’d eventually burn herself out with not only things to say but, also open herself up to scrutiny from others through her own words and behaviour and, turned out that I was correct. Not only did she eventually give up and leave entirely but, others had heard her and told me so a few hours to a few days later, asking me how and why I had put up with her all of these years.
It’s been nearly a year now since that episode and temper tantrum and I haven’t seen her except from a distance nor, has she bothered with me since. My life has been much more peaceful ever since and there’s a few others in my life who are in need of a similar type of treatment. Two things have stood out to me though.
- Do unto others as they do unto you after you’ve tried to treat them the way that you would like them to treat you. If it’s not returned…treat them as they treat you.
- When you’ve tried with someone and can’t make a dent in things with them, stop trying.
From my little corner of life, I do believe that Higher Powers were talking to me through these characters on my television that day. I may need meds to control that type of thinking but, do you know what? It works!
Have yourself a great day.