“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”
I disturbed my neighbor’s night before last and I feel really bad about it.
They are the nicest newlywed couple. She sauntered their wedding rings and he works to keep our water’s clean.
This is how it happened: I decided at 9 p.m. that it was simply too hot to leave my bed where it has been for the year I have lived in this – the 3rd oldest (or second oldest?) house in Wickford. So I decided to move it. By myself. I am not particularly “handy” or physically strong. However, I was determined.
I broke a frame of a playbill of South Pacific. It was a noisy affair. So at about 9:45 my neighbor knocked on my door I answered.
She said: “Do you need help?”
Ok. This is why I love it here. I mean she must have been disturbed, maybe even annoyed. However, instead of coming down and yelling at me, she offered to help. I thought it was “right neighborly” of her. (I apologized and explained I was done and this was not one of my best ideas.)
I love the idea of neighbors. In fact, I think it is how we could eventually end wars. Recently there was some tension about parking on my side of the hood in Wickford. I think some it is because, back in October, I accidently hit a Jaguar. You are now hoping you never live within 20 feet of me! It was a mistake and I immediately found the owner and supplied my insurance and was very sorry.
However, it was 9 months ago. I have good insurance! It reminds me of this story:
Two monks, going to a neighboring monastery, walked side by side in silence. They arrived at a river they had to cross. That season, waters were higher than usual. On the bank, a young woman was hesitating and asked the younger of the two monks for help. He exclaimed, “Don't you see that I am a monk, that I took a vow of chastity?”
“I require nothing from you that could impede your vow, but simply to help me to cross the river,” replied the young woman with a little smile.
“I...not...I can...do nothing for you” said the embarrassed young monk.
“It doesn't matter,” said the elderly monk. “Climb on my back and we will cross together.”
Having reached the other bank, the old monk put down the young woman who, in return, thanked him with a broad smile. She left her side and both monks continued their route in silence. Close to the monastery, the young monk could not stand it anymore and said, “You shouldn't have carried that person on your back. It's against our rules.”
“This young woman needed help and I put her down on the other bank. You didn't carry her at all, but she is still on your back,” replied the older monk.
I have been both monks – the older & the younger – and this is just the truth.
Look, I hit the car the week I found out I was to be laid off from a job I loved. Some people drink when they stressed, or eat. I tend to have mini car accidents. I also have ADHD, a dog, a puppy, a cat and right now a niece living with me. My days are filled with job hunting, dog walking, volunteering and yoga. I am a generally self-centered person. I am almost always late, I am often distracted
and generally in a rush. None of these things make me a great neighbor.
However, I have fed my neighbor’s cat, I always pick up my pups’ poop on dog walks, I offered to help my upstairs neighbors the weekend of their wedding and on my best days I bring the recycling empty buckets in for all of us.
I think having neighbors is holding in your heart the vision of the best in folks.
Anything can be annoying but isn’t annoyance a type of arrogance? Like when I am irritated don’t I think I am “too good” to be bothered?
Someone wise once told me when I am pointing the finger at you (and we all do it: “how could they?”, “I would never!”, etc.) there are three fingers pointing back at yourself. We have a society that loves to judge, ridicule, rate everyone. It all makes me anxious, mostly because I know I am hopelessly flawed. Some days I think I’d be a negative 7. We also love to hold on to anger – as justification for why we know each other less and also maybe in knowing each other less we know less of ourselves.
I love how the monk said “She needed my help and I carried her and then I put her down.” I think that is an example of what is: to be of service and let go of the details of mistakes, troubles and flaws of everyone – even my own. Also, the monk expected nothing in return. This kind of selflessness is what I strive for and an open-mindedness of other people’s trials worries and needs. However, when I ail I am glad for people like the neighbors upstairs who are kind anyway. Maybe everyone is doing the best they can.
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