I am not sure if I may be airing our dirty laundry but the reality is sometimes things get dirty to bring our attention to what is really going on.
I live in a pretty quiet neighborhood. One set up as a private community. We have our own pond, tennis courts, open space for picnics, playing with pets and walking path. We maintain, through monthly assessments, the plowing of the streets, maintenance of the pavement, mowing of the grass, etc. Oh, I forgot to mention, we even have gates. Yes gates that open and close to the pass code we as residents are given when we move in.
Next to the gate is a sign that says “Private.” When we moved in eight years ago this quiet little community of only about 40 or so houses was just what we were looking for. Our daughter were young, kindergarten and second grade. It seemed perfect. Let the girls outside to play in the “gate community” and we can feel somewhat at peace. My girls have grown since then but we still adore the community. Cherish even the magic that happens by its Board Members of our Homeowners Association and other residents who keep it running so smoothly and decorated so beautifully each season. I honor that place in them.
Last night after a long weekend of Yoga Teacher Training, I checked in on my emails. Those who have attended a yoga class, workshop, training or retreat know you leave with a sense of calm, of everything is in place, perfect harmony for even just a little while. As I opened my emails a flood of correspondence starting flooding my inbox.
I knew immediately something was amiss in our quiet community.
Each month the Board of Directors of our Homeowners Association volunteer and discuss all that needs to be accomplished in the community. We, as residents, receive an email of these minute each month. Sometimes with comments, sometimes without. Last night we received the past month’s minutes with a brief note saying a non-resident would like to use our pond to fish on. That a note from this boy was attached as written to the Board of Directors and the Board has given him permission to fish.
And then the emails starting coming in. Many in support of this idea that we are a compassionate community and sharing our pond is a beautiful thing and others infatically against opening up this private space to any outsider.
My initial response was that this is all pretty ironic. The idea of this coming up over a boy fishing. In India, even though many families of six live in a space of just 10 x 10, they have fish in tanks. The belief is that the fish capture the bad energy and die before this bad energy gets to the families. Guess the fish missed this one.
As I read through each email, I was right there on each and every one of my neighbors side!
“Yes! for sure,” I thought, “ let the little boy fish! So cute, he likes to fish! “
Then the next email. “No he should not fish here, that opens the door up to anyone coming in and fishing, using the tennis courts, walking path, No way! No fishing!”
Then the next. “Oh we are a compassionate community beyond our physical location and we should open our arms, our heart and our gates!”
The next, “What if he falls in? what if he breaks the pier? Are we liable, No way !”
As the emails kept coming in all the way until 12:30am I continued to feel the heat rising in our peaceful little community and anxiety rising within me. I felt the passion for each side. In a recent Facebook post I wrote,
“When you become frustrated with someone, that may mean that someone is putting up a barrier not allowing you to become your true self.”
I started to see the barriers. For many when the heat rises it tends to come from one of two places. Fear or expectation. For of my neighbors I could see fear. Parents of young children now begin to see this situation of offering the pond to one young boy as opening a flood gate of other people. Their safe community where their children can run free, sleep in their backyards begins to shift. There are now stranger dangers walking around our streets, driving their cars mindlessly, bullies at the pond while their children fish, teenagers at our tennis courts drinking, violence against our property that we will now need to pay to fix. Oh I could see their fear. I could also see their expectations. Expectations that this is a private, gated community and when moving here we would have some sense of security knowing who our neighbors are, who is walking our streets. I see it. Clearly.
I also see the fear and expectations from the other side. “What will the rest of our village think of those people who live in that gated community? Can’t they share? Are they not compassionate, are they snobby elitists? My friends, they live right out side the gate, they cant come in and stroll our streets? What will they think of me? “
I recently studied with H.H. Dali Llama. His teachings say when we are confronted by another’s view point, one that is not own, H.H. Dali Llama says,
“Remember, he too just wants to be happy.”
I know my neighbors just want to be happy. I truly can see both sides. As the emails shuffled through and I processed all that was happening I struggled to figure out what side I should take. What should I write in MY email? What do I believe in this situation?
But then it came to me. As clear as I could see the sides in the situation, it came to me. “Don’t stand up, stand down.”
This is not my battle. This is not something that deep in my heart I am compassionate about so why should I stand up? Why should I give my opinion when I clearly don’t have one? When I have one, an opinion, you’ll know it. I stand up for what I believe in.
Sometimes we don’t need to pick sides, get involved, stand up. Sometimes it’s ok to Stand Down.