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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Why I Wish You Wouldn't Do That

You know what?  I wish you wouldn’t do that.  Do what, you ask?  The list is endless, my friends, truly endless.  From BIG things (I wish you wouldn’t ride a motorcycle without a helmet!  I wish you wouldn’t smoke!) to small things (I wish you wouldn’t leave your wet towel on the floor…I wish you wouldn’t eat onions when I am about to be trapped in a car with you for several hours) I am a veritable wishing machine some days.  I wish many things for the strangers who cross my path (I wish you would learn how to merge!  I wish you wouldn’t write a check in the express lane!) and for loved ones as well (I wish you wouldn’t stay in a relationship where you aren’t appreciated!  I wish you wouldn’t put yourself down!)  I wish on stars, wishbones and lucky pennies thrown in a fountain.  I wish for myself most of all:  I wish you wouldn’t worry so much…I wish you wouldn’t make choices that don’t serve your highest good.  I wish we all wouldn’t do that, actually.  That most of all.

In case you are concerned that all of this wishing-you-wouldn’t-do-stuff is making me overly judgmental, let me clarify something…there is an enormous difference between making discernments and having preferences and “judgment”.  We have become an incredibly politically correct society as of late; I’m amazed the color orange doesn’t have its own special interest group protesting it being labeled the new black.  But if you say to ANYONE, friend or foe, “I wish you wouldn’t do that”, it does not become a judgment until you add the thought “because I believe it makes you a bad/stupid/deficit human being”.  While I do truly wish people would LEARN TO MERGE, for example, the prevalence of this handicap leads me to believe that it is a struggle for people from all walks of life, and therefore not a reliable indicator of anything except an inability to merge.  And while I really, really wish everybody on planet earth would QUIT SMOKING CIGARETTES, until the day that I have no unhealthy habits of my own, I am in no position to judge.  And I’m not giving up my diet Dr. Pepper, so this conversation is done.
I just got back from attending the New York State Fair for the first time since I was a kid, and as I’m sure you can imagine, I got to observe a whole sea of humanity doing things I wish they wouldn’t do.   William Blake wrote:  “Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to restrain” and I think this is very true.  However, when you are immersed in a world of deep fried candy bars and wine slushies (!?!) you are not talking desire, you are talking impulse…I mean, it’s RIGHT THERE.   So I although I wish my son and my husband wouldn’t order mozzarella sticks with a side of cheese fries for lunch, I truly understand why they did.  Because I ordered a fried clam boat.  HA!  We all make unhealthy choices (hopefully only occasionally), we all can be inconsiderate at times (mainly because we’re oblivious or distracted), we all give in to impulses we later regret and I WISH WE WOULDN’T DO THAT.  But it doesn’t make us “bad” people or even “wrong”.  It makes us human, another drop of water in that sea of humanity.

Which brings me back to our inability to merge.  When you think about it, every time you have the thought “I wish you wouldn’t do that” it’s because you believe the behavior impacts you in a not-so-positive way.   The obvious example is your road trip companion who orders the stinky sandwich with hours of the journey left to go.  The not so obvious example is the stranger who rides his motorcycle without a helmet.  I could talk technically about how people who engage in high risk behaviors cause all of our insurance premiums to go up, or I could talk practically about the fact that NONE of us wants to see ANYONE get hurt; it doesn’t matter if the person is a stranger.  When you hear someone has lung cancer, for another example…I am hard pressed to think of the scenario where this is feel-good news, even (again) if you don’t know them personally.   When we do things that we know other people wish we wouldn’t do, we are failing to merge.  We are failing to recognize that “the butterfly effect” is real, and that small decisions we make can impact the whole in larger, unpredictable ways.  One of the greatest truths any of us can ever hope to grasp is that our happiness is other people’s happiness and their happiness is ours.   Until this resonates with us, we are not merging properly.
My father had a simple wish he articulated on a regular basis:  he wanted a magic wand.  He, like all of us, wished for the magical ability to solve the problems of the world with a single stroke.  The reality is we do have a “magic wand” at our disposal at all times:  RESPECT.  Respect for ourselves, respect for others, respect for the planet, respect for our oneness.  Hey, how does a Buddhist order a pizza?  “Make me one with everything”.  Ha.  When we truly respect life, we are one with everything.  And in order to fully respect ourselves, we have to do our best to stop doing the things we wish we wouldn’t do.  Trickle-down economics has proven to be a bust, but trickle-down respect is a movement I can get behind.  Treat your whole self with respect—your body, your mind, your soul and yes, even your true desires—and that self-respect will impact every single person you come in contact with in a positive way.  Think of your actions as throwing a stone into a pond; not only is the point of impact affected, but ripples go out in every direction for a radius you have no way of predicting.  Failure to recognize your impact on humanity, on your world is the epitome of a lack of self-respect.  And I wish you wouldn’t do that.  Respect yourself and realize that everything you are and everything you do truly matters. 


  1. So true! Respect for yourself leads to respect for others. Loving yourself helps to love others. Now, who is the loved one on the unhappy relationship. ..hmmm....