Tag Archives: funny

Something to Ponder – 7

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Ashley Chambray of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

“Dear Banaba,” Ashley writes. “Why do people get mad at me when I’m only trying to help?”

To my new friend Ashley, I say simply, “Help is perspective, and it is subjective.”

But, I suppose that is me not being very helpful at all.

Help has been around for a long time. I have heard it said that the desire to help is part of the human condition. It’s instinctual. But as we have come to know, through conditioning, we can often override our instincts so that we act in a way that is driven more by our personal motivations and less by how we are wired.

If you feel people are reacting negatively to your help, we must explore what help you are providing, the environment in which you are providing it, and what is motivating you to act.

First, do they ask for help? That is the best indicator of whether help is needed at all.

I share with you two brief stories.

To start, there is the well-known tale of a man who came across a butterfly struggling to emerge from a cocoon. Because he could not tolerate the notion of the creature’s struggle, felt that the creature was in trouble and would be doomed without action, he decided to “help” by stepping in and releasing the creature. In this case, the creature was working through what it needed to as dictated by nature. The struggle itself is what the butterfly needed to overcome to ensure it was strong enough to survive. The butterfly was not ready to be free in that moment and the help – the man’s actions – only ensured the fate the man feared most.

In the second tale, a young woman recently moved out to be on her own, but she came back to her mother’s house regularly to bake cookies. The mother, thinking she was helping, gave the daughter a new cookie tray to bake with believing it would help make her life easier because then she would not have to make the journey back home just to bake the cookies. The daughter took the tray graciously, but it made her cry. She did not see the tray as a gift of help as much as it was a message from her mother that she did not want her to come over to bake anymore.

And, if you will indulge me, I believe another short story is in order. This time we find a teacher who is constantly telling a little boy what to do. There is nothing wrong with the boy other than he often lags behind the other children when getting things done. The teacher feels that she needs to remind him to do things so very often so as to “help” him stay on task, to “help” him keep up with the other children and to “help” keep him from getting into trouble. In his mind, the boy sees himself very much the same as all the other children, yet he feels frustrated that he is constantly singled out to do the very things he had either already done, or was on his way to doing.

So, now we wonder – who was helping who? Who really needed help? Would everything have worked out as it should without the added help?

The case of the teacher shows us that she may have pushed the boy under the guise of “help” to satisfy her own needs in the moment. The boy was capable. And aside from speed, the boy was successful. He likely did not need help. Yet, her job is to manage the class and the boy could be a hindrance – if even a small one – to her finding her own success in the way she perceived things.

If the mother was to know the real outcome of her help, that her daughter was profoundly upset by the gesture, we could guess that she would most assuredly clarify her intentions with her daughter, so the intent of her effort was effectively understood. But in the moment, the daughter was capable, she was successful, and probably did not need the help she received.

Finally, the man would have no way to communicate with the creature he encountered. He saw a situation unfolding before him and chose to act in a way that reflected the limits of his current understanding. He projected a potential danger onto the very small creature and felt compelled to do something. Was the creature in danger? Probably not. Would the creature have otherwise have been successful? Probably, short of the interference with another predator in his circle of life. Did the creature need help?

Because Ashely did not provide the specifics of what makes people mad at her when she tries to help them, we can only guess that she might be offering “help” where it is not needed or it is the kind of “help” she offers regularly, and some may say unnecessarily, to satisfy a need of her own.

Humans are generally good. They generally want to help others. But we could all benefit from understanding where help is needed most, defining what help will actually help and knowing that help is not often providing a resolution, but enough of a bridge to helping another achieve success. Most importantly, we must explore whether we are we helping those who really need it, or are we helping ourselves.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.

 

Something to Ponder – 6

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely Mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Langdon Mershon of Park City, Utah.

“Dear Banaba,” Langdon writes. “What makes you feel you are qualified to comment on the human condition as you do? Where do you get off?”

To my new friend Langdon I say, “Since I am already here and I am not on anything, there is no need for me to get off of the thing I am not on.”

But, of course, that would be me kidding you.

Other people have asked me the same or similar question over the years. Those with whom I am close often consider the question, at least in its directness and perceived tone, to be rude or hostile. However, I assure them that the question is merely a question like all the others and that we should not judge Langdon’s intent by how the voice in our own head interprets the words.

That does not mean it is not rude or hostile. It may very well be, but that kind of hostility often bubbles up from the frustrations we feel when we can’t make sense of what we are experiencing. So we try to seek out a space of common understanding if both sides are willing.

When someone takes in the words of another they have two choices. They can agree and accept those words as part of their own developing knowledge base or they can disagree, discard the words as worthless and move on.

To Langdon, I am either uncannily close to his current mindset on so many issues that he is amazed at how in tune we are, or I am so far off, so often that he considers what I share to be so very incorrect that my sharing it offends his sensibilities in some way.

By asking where I might get off, I’m inclined to believe it is the latter. And if that is the case, he would probably rather that I be quiet and go away completely than to write another word.

It would be easy to do so, but he did ask the question and that implies – no matter how slim – that there is a chance to find a place of common understanding.

So to Langdon, I say, I am no more qualified to comment on the human condition than anyone else. That said, I am no less qualified to comment either.

I am a human in the human race and all that comes with it. I experience what everyone experiences. We all see things through the lenses, filters and biases that we develop as we follow our particular path. Each experience, good and bad, works to tune and hone, break, tear and rebuild those elements which ultimately affect how we see the world and how we feel we need to act to survive.

Just because we have these filters and biases, we should not feel that we are completely bound to them, that we can’t work to better understand them and that we can’t work to change them if we find them not to our liking. After all, as humans, that is how we grow.

We can follow the paths of our lives seeing the world as it is, blissfully unaware that there may be something more for us to do in it until we ask ourselves one question – why?

Once we do that, a gateway to a new universe of possibilities opens before us and it can never be shut because our new sense of awareness prevents it.

In many ways, it can be overwhelming. Change is a scary thing. What do we do with so much potential? Maybe we don’t understand what we think might be happening. So we reach out. We talk. We ask others who may have already been there what they experienced and what we might experience, and if there are any handy tips for making things work. A lot of what we do is looking for handy tips for making things work.

He may disagree, but in the sphere of his own experiences, Langdon himself probably offers insights and guidance to others more that he realizes. Even as he continues to question the broader universe that opened to him.

I cannot claim ownership to knowledge and insight. I cannot prioritize my perspective over another’s. I only do what I feel we all can do when someone reaches out to us.

Reach back.

We may not walk away from this any different from where we started, but because there was effort, there is hope.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.

Something to Ponder – 5

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely Mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Terry O’Keefe of Kellogg, Idaho.

“Dear Banaba,” Terry writes. “What is happiness? Why is it so hard for us to find?”

To my new friend Terry, I say simply, “Happiness is the cloud you walk in.”

When you consider the state of the world and the plights of so many people who struggle to merely survive, it seems that happiness is the most elusive of all the feelings.

Or is it?

We are a funny species. We crave happiness. We long for it. We work very hard to define it. We are pretty certain we know when we do not have it. And yet, when we do, or we think we do, we don’t allow ourselves the luxury of enjoying it. We often squirrel it away so nobody will see it. We feel guilty when someone calls us out for having it and then strongly deny it as if there was a greater value in a common, universal misery. When we see others who may have it, we envy them and instead of celebrating with them, we question if and how and why they may be more worthy of happiness than we are. There are many vicious circles at work here and the very bit of it all is that it all resides in our brains.

I always say you are the arbiter or your existence. You own who you are. Happiness, like misery is a choice. Of course, there are forces in the world that you must deal with every day. These forces may test your commitment to your search for happiness, but only you can decide to give up the power that makes your happiness go away.

So many people scoff at this notion and look at me as if sitting on this mountain for so long has warped my sense of reality and my perspective of the human condition. To them, I say, “not that I am aware of.” Because the questions you pose Terry, are not new and for as long as we have roamed the Earth, humans have done a very poor job of recognizing and embracing their happiness.

To be happy, you must define what it is. You would do yourself a tremendous favor by defining it as something you can attain easily. Why make it harder than that?

If you define happiness as winning millions of dollars in the lottery so you can do all the things you think you deserve to do and have all the things you think you deserve to have, your definition will be quite hard to achieve. You will find happiness elusive and you will perpetuate negative energy when you find out someone else won “your” money. Will the other winner be happy with the money? Who is to say?

If you define happiness more simply, perhaps as a positive state of mind that helps you work toward overcoming the challenges of your daily life, you will find happiness faster and more bountiful. In this case, happiness could be found in a good parking space, making it inside the house before it rains, the sip of an ice cold cream soda…so many things.

So you see Terry, because you don’t really find happiness, there is a sense of futility that comes with always looking for it.

Happiness lies in wait wherever you go and wherever you are. Making that your definition is not ignoring or glossing over the daily problems of life, for that will only lead to its own frustrations. Rather, it is embracing the knowledge of things as they are, knowing what you can do to change those things as needed – if anything – and knowing when to let them go. Accepting things as you have made them, after doing your very best work or putting forth your very best effort, even if they are not perfect – are good. And good is a profound seed for happiness to grow from.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.

 

Something to Ponder – 4

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely Mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Deloris Wilson of Tin Bucket, Arizona.

“Dear Banaba,” Deloris writes. “Can I have it all? If I can, great, but if I can’t, why not?”

To my friend Deloris, I say, “If you had it all, where would you put it?”

Of course, that is me kidding with you.

The answer to your question Deloris, lies almost exclusively within you – within each one of us.

You must first define for yourself what it means to have it all. Does “having it all” mean you have healthy, nurturing relationships with the various people in your life? Is it a life that allows you to be the person you want to be? Is it money? Material belongings? Good health? The ability to travel frequently to far off and exotic places? The latest clothes? The skills and abilities to do whatever you want? Fame? Recognition? And so on.

You might review that list and say yes, all that and all the other things, all of it.

Once you define the objective, the next thing to determine is what you are willing to do in fact, to get it all.

How deep is your drive? How dedicated are you to the task of achieving your objectives? How hard are you willing to work? What do you know now in your life that you are willing to sacrifice in order have it all? How much are you willing to gamble?

When we start to consider the work involved with getting, and having and keeping it all, we often start to hear in our minds the soft voices of dissent which whisper to us the various ways in which we will fail in our efforts to get everything we want.

It goes like this:

You: I want a boat. I deserve a boat. Other people have boats. I’m as good as anyone else who has a boat. Why can’t I have a boat?

The soft voices: Boats are expensive. You won’t be able to get a big boat. You don’t have the money. Yes, you could try to save the money, but that will take a long time. You aren’t great at saving money. And what about the bills? By the way, you have no place to put the boat. And, because you are working all the time, when would you use the boat. Do you really need a boat?

And just like that, we give up, often in a swirl of frustration and sadness…possibly anger.

In my experience Deloris, I find that many people who dream of having it all, are merely envious of those whom they believe have more than they do. What adds to their woe and anger is the perception that those who have more than they do got it all through ways and means that are not equitable to all. They believe that in someway, the other person’s path was made easier and that their path is far more difficult. That the world is unfair.

It is a hard notion to embrace, but even when we feel slighted and that our lives are bad, or not what we wanted or not what we feel we deserve, I can assure you there are people who envy the lot we have in life. In some ways, we look to be the ones with the easier path.

That is not to say that you should give up on your dreams of working for and having the things that you want. But know that we spend a lot of time and energy in the pursuit of things, things and moments that come and go and so quickly dissolve into photographs and memories. It is the day-to-day of living where you will spend most of your time and it is there that you must find some level of satisfaction, or happiness.

It was once said, “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need.”

If you can embrace the perspective that your life is as good as you make it. That you are good and that you have value no matter what others surmise, or what you believe others surmise. If you can recognize and embrace the glorious gifts that each day has to offer, the sun, rain, green grass, food and drink, the moon and the stars, those with whom you surround yourself. If you can release the bitterness and anger that comes with envy and the notion of greed, well, you may not end up having it all – at least not how you saw it originally, but you will certainly be closer.

Peace to you  – Banaba

The List

Percy Collins had a list a mile and a half long filled with things he had to do. He wasn’t sure how many items actually fit on a list a mile and a half long. Of course, it was theoretical. If there were an actual list, the font size used to create it would be critical in determining the number. It was easier to just say, a million.

Of that million, missing amongst the stare at the moons, the climb the mountains, the take exotic trips to Canada, was ‘become a successful businessman.’  

He didn’t care much about becoming a successful businessman, and by much he meant, not at all. That said, he seemed to spend most of his time working toward just that. He joined his father’s business shortly after college. After his father got sick, he took on the whole of the business full-time. He worked hard. He worked long hours. He was good with people, and he supposed to some degree, he was good at business.

Still, when he rolled out of bed in the morning he was about as excited to get to work as one might be excited to go to the doctor, a doctor who kept trying to find the elusive cause to a dull and nagging pain or a spreading rash. There never seemed to be a cure or resolution. It never ended. It just led to another series of appointments, pokes, prods and tests.

A younger Percy fancied himself an artisan. He was good with his hands. He liked the notion of looking back and seeing something stand for a day’s work. He liked tile. He liked baking. They were simple concepts and honest trades, but often seen by some, mostly in the business world, as ‘less than” because they rarely garnered the potential of huge deals, huge payoffs, and a businessperson’s warped sense of professionalism.

He went to work. He did his job. He was honest, and dedicated and worked to improve himself. Then he would go home, eat dinner, have a nightcap and nod off in front of the evening news thinking of his list. Canada…

Slow Learner

It was hot, too hot.

And he knew that even before he put it in his mouth. It was burning his fingers, so clearly the next obvious step to avoid damage to his fingers was to get it in his mouth, which was the ultimate part of the plan to begin with.

He had all the time in the world. There was no reason for him not to wait for it all to cool down to something easy to handle and easy to consume. The only rationale was that there was no rationale. He had to get this hot molten thing in his mouth right now for fear that it might vanish, or that the flavor might evaporate or that someone will see him eating this thing while it was clearly too hot. The need was primal.

Now, there was nothing but hot consuming his mouth. Burning, not flavor and the roof of his mouth would punish him for days for doing such a stupid thing. Even the mouth knew it was too hot, but the mouth has never had the strength to fight the hands, especially when the fingers are in jeopardy.

Saliva rushed to the rescue filling any space not taken up by what the brain could only surmise was lava. It seeped a bit from his lips.

“HOT, HOT, HOT,” the brain screamed, “WARNING!”

He tried to push the glob to his teeth, but his tongue protested, “HOT!”

He stood there, sucking in air and feverishly waiving his hands in an effort to cool the thing, end the pain, and minimize the potential damage.

There was only one choice left. He tossed his head back moving the thing to the back of his teeth where he chewed maniacally, sucking in cooling air as fast as he could and hoping by breaking it down quickly and cooling it at the same time, the horrible ‘hot’ would go away.

He swallowed.

As if determined never to give up, the evil glob of hot fought for life all the way down, burning everything it could touch, before it ultimately vanished into the stomach.

He grabbed his glass and chugged it down, not even remembering what it was. The cooler liquid did little in the moment to provide relief and seemed to instead, highlight each spot the hot glob touched in its battle for survival. Each spot a tiny reminder of his silly and fruitless behavior.

He sighed.

He was sweating a little.

He looked over at the pan.

Maybe now it has all cooled down enough for another try.

Cut

Tork hated the way his mind worked…sometimes.

The cut on his hand was an accident. Just a stupid accident. But it felt substantial and there was a lot of blood. He was afraid to look too close to better avoid the chance of throwing up. A cut with lots of blood was one thing. A cut with lots of blood while vomiting was a whole other thing. He tried to remember the last time he had a cut like this. Nothing came to mind. This felt really substantial.

He remembers pulling paper towels from the rack and wadding them up to staunch the wound, but the blood was aggressive and soaked through that fairly quickly. He reached for more paper towels and witnessed – almost in slow motion – the last 1, 2, 3, sheets pulling away from the tube and leaving the brown core to spin freely as if it were laughing at him.

Crap!

He stumbled down the hallway to the closet where he kept the extra rolls of paper towels. The door swung wide to reveal an unexpected vacancy where the paper towels usually stood in waiting.

Gah!

Maybe there were more in the basement. Treated like a small storage facility for the things he had too much of at any one moment, he took the stairs down and pushed his way through jars of peanut butter and dishwasher cleaning solutions to where he thought the paper towels must be. The 1, 2, 3, sheets he got from upstairs were taking on a healthy red coloring. There were cookies down here. Hm. He wondered if they had expired yet.

A brand new package of 6 rolls – which had the absorbency of 8 – stood before him. He grabbed the package and tried to puncture the plastic housing with one hand. Again, as if in slow motion, the 6 rolls with the absorbency of 8 all flew away from him. He noticed the room getting warm, or he was getting warm. Yes, he was sweating now and he watched the rolls rain to the ground and spill away from him.

He dropped to the ground and grabbed at the closest roll, spinning it in his hand looking for the starter sheet. It seemed impossible. How did they secure that first sheet he wondered. Then he wondered if it might not be better to insert a small tab on the first sheet to make it easier to access. It was certainly something worth contacting the company about. It was like a public service, making the sheets easier to access in emergencies such as spilled chocolate milk or blood…Right! The blood!

He tossed away the now dripping 1, 2, 3, sheets from upstairs away revealing the cut for longer than he had hoped. Ugh! A feeling gurgled in his stomach.

Unable to find the elusive first sheet, he crammed the whole roll onto the cut. He applied as much pressure as he could to stop the bleeding and rolled onto his back.

That felt good.

A nap might be nice now.

He lay there for a moment, holding his hand to the roll for dear life as the room swirled around him. He sensed this was a good plan. He made a mental note that the gutter on the left side of the house might be clogged. He needed to check that. Also, these paper towels felt nice. He should write a letter to tell the company telling them how pleasant they were. Oh, and why did he have so much peanut butter?