Lost

“I’m lost.”

“No, you’re not.”

“I am.”

“How can you say that?”

“Because I don’t know where I am.”

“You’re here!”

“But where’s here?”

“Why does it matter? Where do you want to be?”

“That’s the point. I don’t know where here is; and I don’t know where I . . . Well, actually, I do know where I want to be, and I’m not there.”

“How do you know?”

“I don’t. That’s what’s so confusing. I’m not sure I can really explain it.

“You see, I look around and I’m in a jungle between lots of trees with a dense fog, all around. There’s no clear path out. I can’t even work out how I got here. Yet I’m also not sure that I don’t want to be here. I mean, it could be said that I’m here by choice, couldn’t it. So, if I’m here by choice, I probably want to be here. But why would I want to be here?”

“Why do you think you want to be here?”

“I don’t know. Am I hiding from something? Or someone? Who? I feel like I’m hiding from . . . myself! Why would I do that? Am I trying to deceive myself? Why? There’s something I need to do and . . . and I’m afraid to do it; somewhere I have to go, but I’m afraid to go there.”

“”Where do you have to go? And what do you have to do?”

“I have no idea.

“Well, actually, that’s not quite true. I have to go inside and search.”

“Inside? Inside what?”

“Not what? Who? I have to go inside myself. And that’s scary.”

“Not many people can do that.”

“Tell me something I don’t know. Too many people go off to ‘find themselves’ and never come back. No wonder it’s scary.

“Yet, really, I know where I am. I’m here; wherever here is. I’m not really lost. I know where I am; I’m here. I just don’t know where here is.”

“If you did know where ‘here’ is, what would you do with that information? After all, you said there are no visible paths. So it would not matter which direction you go in.”

“True. But at least . . . at least if I’m moving, it would be easier to turn.”

“Interesting.”

“And I’ll never find my way unless I can see where I’m headed for.

“I suppose the real question is where I want to be headed for. If I’m searching for myself, and I know I’m here, then haven’t I already found myself? Haven’t I already reached my destination?

“No. That’s not quite true. The idea of a destination suggests that the journey will end. Yet the journey never ends, does it. Life goes on and the journey doesn’t end. After all, once we reach our destination we look around for somewhere else to go. The journey never ends. And, since I know that I’m here, this is just a stopping off point on my journey.

“So why can I not see which way to go? Because I have no clear direction? Where do I want to be? No. Why do I want to be here?”

“Good question. Why do you want to be here?”

“Because I need a rest. I need some time without the demands of other people tugging at my resources. Yet I also don’t want to ignore the needs of those who matter to me. That’s why I’m afraid to search for myself – I don’t want to lose those I care about.”

“And yet you know where you are.”

“So I don’t need to search! I’m here.

“And the mist is clearing. Mist? Fog? What’s the difference? It’s clearing. There is always a path between the trees. It may not be a well-worn path, but it’s still a path. It’s a path I have to make for myself. It’s my life; my journey; my path.”

“So what does that mean?”

“It means I know where I am. And I know where I’m going.

“I’m here, and I’m going to keep going. I’m simply going to walk between two trees and keep going.

“That’s strange.”

“What is?”

“Where did that path come from? Did I just make that path? Yes. It’s my path.”

“Where does it lead?”

“Wherever I want it to lead. I am in control of my life. I can choose to stay here or I can choose to move on. It’s my choice.”

“And what have you chosen?”

“To move on.”

“Where to?”

“Wherever my journey takes me . . . No . . . Wherever I want to go. And I want to go and look after those I care about; which includes myself. After all, I’m actually in a clearing between trees.

Now, look between those two trees. What do you see?”

“It’s not about what I see. It’s about what you see. But I see a path.”

“ Of course you do. It may not be much of a path, but it’s my path. It’s my way forward. Thanks for listening.

“So. Are you coming?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Not really.”

Daily Post


Daily Post Challenge: Dialogue See the challenge at: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/writing-challenge-dialogue/

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Count The Cost of Lost Opportunities

In Care – But Not Too Much I mentioned that giving of ourselves to others always comes with a cost. It doesn’t have to be financial; it may be our time, our resources, or our energy. But there will always be a cost if it’s genuine giving.

What, though, about the hidden costs? What are the risks in giving of ourselves?

What’s In It For Me?

The most obvious risk, especially to someone who has a tendency to think of themselves first, is, What will I get out of it? It’s a good question. Yet the answer depends to a great extent on our outlook in life. If we are too self-centred we may only think about tangible rewards. People with a more altruistic view of life revel in the pleasure of simply giving with no expectation of getting anything more than the joy of satisfying someone else’s need, and seeing the gratitude in their eyes.

Yes. But wouldn’t that leave us open to abuse? No. Why not? Well, notice the concept of meeting someone else’s needs, not their desires. There’s a big difference. Abusive people claim that they “need” to have their inordinate desires fulfilled. Genuinely needy people have a humility and modesty such that they do not ask more than “Sufficient for the day.” We can learn to distinguish between the two. It doesn’t take many bad (or good) experiences before we know the difference.

Missed Opportunities

Now think about this: A friend has a genuine need. It could be anything, but let’s start with money. We may have some spare cash sitting in our savings account, so we discuss it with our partner and agree to give our friend enough to meet their genuine present need. What has it cost us? What could it cost us?

Some years ago an acquaintance made a very astute observation. With the permission of a needy person, I had made him aware of someone else’s difficulties and he had loaned money to the needy one to meet the immediate needs. I mentioned that there was a possibility that he would never be repaid. He said, “Never lend anything that you can’t afford to lose.” He was, and still is, right. Whether we lend or give money to someone we should always keep in mind that we may never get it back. Can we afford that? If not, it may be better to find another way to help. (Happily, my acquaintance was repaid in full.)

Going back to our savings, what were we saving for? Will our family holiday now have to be a little less exotic because we helped out a friend in need? Will that cost us anything in terms of our family relationships? Can we afford it? Is our family strong enough to withstand the adjustment?

Then there is the matter of giving of our time. We cannot create extra time, so it must be taken from other activities. Does this mean taking time away from our family? Is that a price that we, and they, are willing to pay? Spending time on other people is fine. But our family are “other people,” too. So is our employer.

Looking After Ourselves

This may seem strange in a discussion about helping others by giving of ourselves. Yet unless we look after ourselves how useful can we be to other people? A large part of the opportunity cost relates to opportunities to care for ourselves.

Does giving of our time or other resources mean neglecting our own needs? Occasionally, maybe. However, if we make a habit of neglecting ourselves so as to care for others, we can very quickly discover our weaknesses. Our health can suffer and we become the needy.

Also, when we spend time helping someone else overcome their problems, this will have an effect on our own emotional condition. As I have said, previously, that is why even counsellors have to have their own counselling sessions. Therefore, we need to maintain our own support network.

Be Balanced

The point of this discussion is that we must be balanced. We cannot solve all the problems of the whole world. We have a circle of influence wherein we can and should make changes.

Outside that, we have our circle of concern. We may or may not be able to influence what happens in this region. Therefore, there is no point in wearing ourselves out trying to change things that we cannot change. By extension, if there is little chance of motivating change, there is little point in expending excessive resources on it. It may be better to back off and use our resources more wisely elsewhere.

That’s not to say that we give up on anyone. We simply use our resources wisely. We spend them where they will provide the greatest benefit.

So count the cost of helping. This does not mean holding back when we have the opportunity and the resources to meet the need. It means being balanced and keeping each day’s needs where they belong.

Care – But Not Too Much

Lions

Yes. I know. How can you care too much? That’s a very good question which I hope to answer.

Consider a pride of lions. Each member is concerned with the welfare of his or her family. But he or she would also walk away if the circumstances dictated. If one of the pride was to die, he or she would have no worries about eating it. Not that I’m suggestion eating our friends, of course!

One of the best ways to find peace in our lives is to give of ourselves. Look around you. How many people are smiling? What about you? Are you smiling? Life, today, can be very hectic, leading to stress, misery, and ill health. In my previous post, Be Yourself – or Change, I mentioned that one way to change for the better involves taking an interest in other people. In The Power of Two I highlighted that we can all benefit from a trusted confidante.

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