''What Kind of Life?''

Image credit: pexels-keira-burton-6147273
Audio: 232-What Kind of Life.mp3

Every stranger is a suspect
every glance may pose a threat
Every movement's competition
acts of kindness create debt

Every question is a challenge
every gesture is a slight
Every misstep is an act of war
that makes you want to fight

Every handshake hides a motive
or intention to deceive
Even smiles will make you question
what lies lurking up the sleeve

Every gift comes with a string
and every offer has a catch
Who draws near evokes suspicion
of possessions they might snatch

Every whisper makes you wonder
who is planning an attack
Everyone is out to get you
so you never turn your back

What a burden you must carry
walls and weapons right and left
Watching warily for danger
poised in waiting for some theft

But there's naught the world can rob
and no real treasures they can steal
When you're safe, secure through knowing
all you own is how you feel

Feel the world is mostly evil
evil's what you'll mostly find
Feel that world is full of goodness
goodness is returned in kind

In your fear-based self-assertions
the thing of value you might lose
Is not position or possession
but the priceless right to choose!

Make new choices in your living
and your life could turn about
Choose to see the good in people
and guess who benefits from the doubt?

I see it in the way some people interact with the world. I see it in the way some drive--never giving an inch to merging traffic as if their entire trip and their very lives hinged upon preventing one specific car from by getting into the flow of traffic. I see it in how people wait on line at the post office--assigning themselves as "Queue Police," ever-vigilant (often to the point of paranoia) for anyone trying to cut ahead. There's an underlying fear that somehow every interaction provides the world a way to take advantage of them in some way. A fear that somehow they lose something by seeing and offering goodness to people. Do you know some people who live that way? Ahem...maybe it's you.

Now don't get me wrong. I know people may be selfish. I know that there are users and abusers out there. But I decided a long time ago that it was much more liberating to choose my responses to those types of people than to allow them to choose it for me. For example, I used to think it was the greatest affront in the world if someone stepped on my foot (without an apology) on the subway. I would expect and seek out an acknowledgement and apology. In time, however, I got tired of feeling so suspicious, so vigilant, and consequently so tense every time I rode a train.

Somewhere in my self-help readings (I forget where exactly), I discovered the idea that instead of an automatic response of anger and vengeance, that I could choose unique responses and choose instead, for instance, to smile! Once I discovered this amazing truth, it was the beginning of freedom! So I developed some new habits.

So these days I choose to smile when someone is selfish. I choose to let the other driver merge into traffic with the hope that they'll get safely to their destination. I choose to be calm when someone picks a fight. And strangely enough, I still get through my days. I still get to where I'm going just as quickly. And, I'm not as stressed always expecting the worst. And, you know what? I like the kind of life I'm living!

So what kind of life are you living?

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