Remember when we were children and everyone tried to best everyone else? "Is that your new bike? It's okay, but mine's a Schwinn. Three gears? Mine's a ten speed. I'd race you up the hill, but you don't have a chance against my bike. What else did you get for Christmas? A record player? Where'd your parents get that, at the pawn shop? I have a dual deck cassette player. It plays and records and even has auto reverse." Can you still hear voices like that in your head?
We were proud of our new acquisitions and feeling great to have had such good fortune. Then the neighborhood braggart began the spiel, telling us how inferior our possessions were. Soon we were depressed and hated the new acquisition and wondered why our parents had even bothered buying it in the first place.
I'm sure psychologists could give us all sorts of explanations about why this happened. However the reality of the matter was that the kid with the Schwinn bike had no idea how long my parents had sacrificed to save enough money to buy the Western Flyer, or that my new record player actually did come from the pawn shop. He didn't care about any of that or about my feelings. He just wanted to toot his own horn.
Fortunately, we all grow up. Unfortunately, some of us never mature. If I weren't living thousands of miles from where I grew up, I'd swear that I'd recently overheard some of my childhood friends talking as adults. "An earthquake in New York that registered 5.8 on the Richter scale? Oh, that's nothing! Here on the west coast we get AFTERSHOCKS bigger than that. Category one hurricane headed up the east coast? My family survived Katrina and had to rebuild their house. You're here for a colonoscopy? My uncle had six inches of his intestines removed after a recurrence of stage four colon cancer. Got laid off? My brother lost his job two years ago and hasn't found anything yet."
It seems that some things just never change, even if they ought to.
- Do you ever hear the sound of your own horn being tooted?
- Can you remember how that felt when others did it to you?
- Is it possible to just listen compassionately or supportively, instead?
- What will help you do that today?