Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Conversation With Donnie Downer

"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.  Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." 
Marcus Aureilus

One morning while leaving the YMCA I fell in step with an elderly gentleman, I'll call him Donnie Downer.

"Isn't it a beautiful morning?" I asked as I listened to the birds singing their spring mating songs. 

"I see a patch of gray over there." he muttered. 

"Spring is springing!" I declared.

"Not in the north." he grunted.

I smiled and veered off the path toward my car. The breeze on my skin was invigorating. I felt happy to be alive.

My fellow gym member was viewing the world from his perch and I from mine. There was a gray cloud hugging the horizon as I extolled the beauty of the morning. It was frigidly cold in the north as I proclaimed spring was in the air. My reality existed side by side along with his. 

Believing you are obligated to heal everyone all the time by turning their sour into sweet can be an enervating and thankless task. It was a liberating moment in my life when I truly grasped the concept that we create our own happiness. I was freed from the responsibility of changing the perspective of another. The idea that I could be happy while someone else was not was emancipating. Being empathetically attuned to another is a quality of many of helpers and healers. But feeling that we must heal and change all those around us is an insurmountable task. There will be times when the most I can contribute to another will be a smile.

When you are in the company of a Donnie or Debbie Downer may I suggest that you attempt to respect that they have a point of view, albeit different from yours, but nonetheless real to them.  A grumpy attitude is an outward sign of inner sadness and pain, sometimes we cannot alleviate that sadness no matter how hard we try.

The belief that we create our own happiness, beginning with our thoughts, liberated me from the exhausting role of perpetual caretaker. But it did not release me from loving. Along our journey through life we will have good days and not so good days. To acknowledge that perspectives and attitudes ebb and flow allows a space for love and acceptance to flourish. We can begin to explore our world through a filter of unconditional love, first of oneself then of others.

Love and Light,