Laughing without limits is a very entertaining blog I follow covering a wide variety of topics about real life. This is an extract from the latest post:
“My husband and I were in Paris, and it was freezing out. We were waiting for our train, and another had just arrived. I saw an older man get on the train, clearly homeless. He had a bag with his belongings. And he had another plastic bag wrapped around his neck, in the place of a scarf….”
(the somethings October 10, 2016)
Seeing the plastic around his neck she wanted to give him her scarf. It is a natural reaction. Instead, fear of offending or making a scene, ruled the day. It didn’t help to be in a foreign country and subject to a language barrier. In different ways and in different places we have all been in this situation. Think about it. I know I have. So I have to ask the question – what kind of world do we live in when we are confused about what should be a simple act of kindness? Yet, we worry that same act of kindness may be misconstrued, unwanted, or unnecessary. We worry about how our actions may be perceived.
As teachers, placing a hand on a child’s shoulder to reassure them, to make them feel valued is frowned on. But, we all need acknowledgement. I know I do. I need someone to notice when I’m struggling. I need people on my team. I live for the moments when I am witness to those random acts of kindness that show, teams exist. I live for the moments when I feel the fear of offending, or embarrassing, misreading what is happening, and whatever else crosses our mind, and I still take a chance and act. Somewhere, sometime, someone will need a scarf to replace the plastic around their neck. I don’t want to be afraid to give it or receive it.
I love that blogging allows me to discuss these things. In fact I did a post entitled Who has your back? on this subject, some time ago on my old blog. I am not ashamed to tell you I am about to use a section of it below. It ties in so well with supporting others. The reality is that whatever your need, support is invaluable, and these days too many people are quite stingy with their support. I know in most cases, it is simply fear of how they will be perceived, by others. It makes sense to be afraid of your reception but it is so much better for everyone when we feel the fear and don’t let it hold us back.
The Blue Grotto or Grotta Azzurra is on the Isle of Capri. It is a sea cave hosting a phenomenon that only happens 80 days of the year, tidal conditions permitting. Oceans (deep water) and I (nearly drowned victim) have a real affinity as long as I stay on land or a boat to appreciate the panorama. When I discovered seeing the cave meant I had to get into a tiny rowboat I was beside myself.
The cave or cavern has a narrow entrance. One rowboat goes in as one comes out. Simple? No! Firstly you had to get in the rowboat. Then you had to lie down and the boatman apparently had to grab hold of a rope at the entrance, which he then had to pull on. This allowed leverage to lower himself on top of the rowboat passengers and thus enter the cavern. Watching this from the deck of the ferry I quickly lost my enthusiasm . Limited Space!!! Limited Height!!! Dark hole!!!
Oblivious to anything except my own personal drama I failed to realise I was being closely observed. I had progressively moved to the back of the line to avoid, said rowboat. My male observer didn’t agree with my actions. An Australian voice told me to get into the rowboat. Politely I disagreed. Really, I thought to myself? Who does he think he is? Despite his wife grabbing at his arm (fear of how we can be perceived) he did not desist in his verbal diarrhea.
Finally feeling the frustration of being ignored (by me) he pointed, and told me to get in the f…king boat. (Please feel free to fill in the correct letters) His lovely wife (feeling the being “perceived as”) did attempt to curb his tirade whilst four children (not feeling the “perceived as”) sported huge grins. Other passengers followed suit, grinning and outright laughing, at what had become a spectacle. The hunk (he was) and I were at a stalemate. Interestingly enough, neither one of us really cared others were watching. The hunk continued pointing and yelling. I stood my ground.
Finally totally exasperated he said:
“Get in the f…king boat because I refuse to stand here and watch you miss an experience like this one. I can’t, I just can’t let you. Get in that God damn f….king boat now.”
I did. I don’t know why but once inside the cave I concluded falling victim to insanity fit the bill. I was in a black hole with a dead weight on top of me. The weight lifted. I sat up and the darkness of nightmares dissipated to reveal magic. Somehow a beam of light from the ceiling hits the water lighting up, not only the cavern, but the water underneath. My heart began to beat in time to azure revelations. The iridescent wonder whispered to me of forever, and I looked around for fairy dust.
To this day I remember every shade and hue the cavern and water gifted me. I remember a man on my team. Yes, it’s not the same thing as donating to charity, or giving a homeless person your scarf but it’s still having your back. So perhaps it is the same thing after all.