Monday, January 26, 2015

Caring About Others

Bringing Happiness

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Tiny spider on the driverside window

Altruism; Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. (More)

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Vultures and gulls

Helping others with no expectation of reward. To be altruistic requires outgrowing selfishness. This is supposed to happen naturally as one ‘grows up’.

I think one needs to be aware of their own selfishness if there is any hope of developing beyond petty, childish behavior. Usually that first awareness comes during our formative years when an authority figure admonishes you, or another child for not sharing something.

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Treehouse resident poses for the camera

I was 6 or 7 years old before I was able to see from outside of myself. Thanks to my neighbor friend’s father telling me I was behaving selfishly when he took Glen and me to Dorney Park for Glen’s birthday. It was the first time that I realised that my act of arrogant ignorance hurt my friend’s feelings.

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White crane at the Clover Creek refuge

Glen lived next door to us. He and I would play together and have fun doing kid stuff. I was unaware that he had CP. I found out years later that he didn’t talk or interact easily with anyone else. I expect that they were treating him differently than other little boys and he didn’t like it.

I didn’t question or examine our interactions at the time, because to me he was a kid my age living right next door and was available to play whenever I wanted to. It was simple, he was my friend next door.

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Web over the Lake Redding spillway

Meanwhile, back at Dorney Park;

Glen, his dad and I are on little boat that had a wheel to steer it for whoever was at the helm. The boats were guided from beneath by a track that left some wiggle room so if you were careful, you could guide the boat without banging into the track. Being the ever so smartypants that I was at that age, I felt that I was best qualified to keep us on a true course.

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On the rocks in the Sacramento river

Glen wanted to steer, but I had experienced his steering and I felt we would have a much better boat trip without all the banging back and forth on the guide rail. Mr. Shafer told me we were there for Glen’s birthday. I was his guest and should stop being selfish and let Glen steer the boat if he wants to.

I can still feel the impact of that moment of awareness. Everything might not be all about me, and to top it off I could see by looking at Glen that I had hurt his feelings. I feel the same sadness and shame writing about it 63 years later.

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A flock of acrobats

You would think that I would have stayed on my best behavior for the rest of Glen’s birthday treat, but there was more to be learned.

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As the crow flies

After the amusement park, we went to the movie theater to see Fantasia. It was the most exciting, mesmerizing experience I had ever experienced. Big high fidelity sound, a giant screen with colors swirling, exploding...well, I was in heaven.

However, those very same things that were thrilling to me were an assault on Glen’s sensory systems. He was suffering and really had to get out of there. I didn’t want to leave. His dad was tired and didn’t hesitate in telling me to stop being so selfish and remember he took us there for Glen’s birthday, not mine.

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Another attempt to duplicate the classic shot

That incident didn’t stop me from acting selfish from that day forward, but I did start questioning whether my actions were of a selfish nature, and if so, would that cause unhappiness.

I still think it is prudent to take control or assume leadership if I haven’t seen evidence that anyone else is qualified to steer the ship, (unless it is their birthday).

Today’s Video

It Was The Light

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