3P Random Reflections Blog

"Don't be concerned if you see us roughing them up a little bit. That's what we need to do to keep them under control. You won't likely have any safety issues with them living next door, since break-ins are not what they tend to do, but maybe keep a bat at the back door just in case."

 

It was early Spring in 2013. We were having concerns with the new neighbours who had moved into the house next door. They showed a few moments of happiness (connection, care, conversation, laughter), but I didn't really notice that. All I noticed was their many moments of suffering, and their desire to ease that suffering in the form of behaviours that we were becoming increasingly afraid of... intoxication, yelling, physical violence, and all the chaos that accompanies them.

 

As a consequence, the police, the paramedics, and the ambulance services, were occasional visitors to the home.

 

Many of our new neighbour's behaviours appeared to be related to drugs and gangs and illegal activities. There were also a lot of strange events and behaviours that we couldn't comprehend or make sense out of. For those first few months, with our growing concern and my keeping an eye on all that was going on, I began to feel like a not-so-funny Gladys Kravitz. My husband became the researcher, looking for any information he could find on local gangs, which just compounded our concerns.

 

A few months after our new neighbours moved in, we finally decided we needed to go to the local police to find out what was going on and what the risks were. I don't know if I have some level of insecurity with authority, but I was nervous about having to speak to them. However, it was necessary... we were seriously wondering if we needed to sell our house and move.

 

The officer who greeted me at the local police station, didn't seem to be that happy himself. He looked lethargic and sort of inconvenienced by my arrival and didn't really make much eye contact. He wasn't that chatty, but he listened to what I had to say, and then spent about 5 minutes silently looking at the computer, reviewing the reports he had for the address that I gave him.

 

When I voiced that "we were concerned", he eventually confirmed, with his eyes still on the screen, "Well, you have a right to be concerned." I don't know if that made me feel relieved for realizing we weren't exaggerating things, or if it made me feel more concerned for our safety... perhaps it was a bit of both.

 

The officer didn't give me too many more details, other than letting me know that the police were aware of problems at the identified address. He then gave me a telephone number for what I think he referred to as "community police"...a few officers assigned as liaisons to our community for this type of issue.

 

When I phoned the number provided, the first officer I spoke to was much more energetic and very talkative. He shared information about the situation and gave us his advice.

 

I appreciated having more information about the occupants and activity in the home... I think it gave me the illusion of some control in a situation that appeared out of my control. "Oh, at least I understand better exactly what's going on now and why"... a breath of relief.

 

Unfortunately, at the same time, I was given a new concern... Although I appreciated all of the information, I sort of felt that this officer told me more than I probably should have known about other people's lives. And, he also shared one thing I really didn't want to know... "Don't be concerned if you see us roughing them up a little bit. That's what we need to do to keep them under control".

 

I had no idea what to say. I didn't have the courage to either address it or ask more questions to better understand it. I just stayed quiet, and allowed the conversation to continue, as if what he said was OK and normal, even though it was not OK and normal in my mind.

 

Although I was shocked by what the officer said, there was also a part of me that maybe wasn't surprised. Perhaps that was because of cop movies I had seen or occasional news items of some officers being violent. Perhaps it was also knowing that some members of our community are routinely seen and treated as less.

 

And although I didn't realize it at the time, I was also seeing my neighbours as less than me in some way as well. I may have had compassion for their suffering, but it came in the form of, "wow, their issues and addictions are bad, and thank God I don't have that".

 

What I didn't at all see, was my intrinsic connection to them... I completely missed seeing any of their beauty, and I held no reverence for their humanity or our common humanity. I saw that they had problems, but it NEVER occurred to me that they and their problems belonged to me in any way. I saw them as completely separate from me.

 

The bigger part of my surprise with the police officer's admission, was that it appeared to be so easy and safe for him to share something with me (a stranger) that was clearly neither legal nor humanely acceptable. I didn't really explore that in my mind any further at that time. My mind was on my own problems and it never occurred to me that this issue of police violence toward others was also my problem.

 

With all the recent attention on the insecure state of our systems and structures of society and law enforcement, this whole experience seems so much more prescient. It's a reminder to me of how easy it can be to look away when I think the problem isn't mine... and when I think that any other human being standing in front of me, or living next door to me, or policing in my neighbourhood, doesn't belong to me.

 

During that Spring, the issues next door continued to escalate. The warmer weather meant open windows and louder music, and it meant that our neighbour's suffering could more easily spill out onto their front lawn and throughout the neighbourhood.

 

And then one day, out of the blue, I had some sort of profound experience that gave me a new set of eyes with which to see the world. My husband's and my experience of, and our relationship with our neighbours, completely changed, and my life and career was set on another path... but that's another story.

 

In the meantime, my reflection on this experience is not something I'm ashamed of. At the time, I had no idea how to listen deeply, either to myself or to the world. I was completely blind to the illusory nature of insecure thought and feeling, and how it informed my sense of self and drove my behaviours and separated me from my fellow human beings.

 

Seven years later, I'm much more connected to humanity and much more at peace with life, but I'm still learning to listen. And what could be more important than for me to keep listening deeply? After all, we all belong to each other.

A few years ago, I had a significant realization, that "I was my community, and my community was me". ALL OF IT.

 

It wasn't just an idea, or an interesting perspective, or a nice thought... It was an awareness of an intrinsic connection to everything and everyone around me.

 

In a more LOGICAL sense, I became very aware that every single one of my every day behaviours (what I don't do, what I do, and how I do it) creates the soil for whatever is allowed to grow within me AND in the community.

 

And in an INCOMPREHENSIBLE sense, I became aware that I AM ALL of the community... I AM all of the bad in the community, just as I AM all of the good... I am the racism, the addiction, the violence, and the righteous judgment, just as I am the beauty, the balance, the cooperation, and the love (even in my logical mind, I can easily see the seeds of all of these within me).

 

I saw that EVERY time I was pointing a finger... it was equally and unreservedly and wholly, pointing right back at me.

 

I still find myself pointing my finger... it's an unwelcome habit, although I have grown to appreciate it's presence... for each time my finger points... it inevitably reminds me I still have so much yet to learn, or perhaps more appropriately... to unlearn.

 

The resources at the link below are just one of many that can offer me some perspectives for reflection... perhaps they may offer the same for some others too...

 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-VlBO-QgirITwCTugSfKie5Fs/mobilebasic?fbclid=IwAR3rm0fqCxbKTnrSUrIullBlk10pKgfMx73EXiHcCLJ8ZVCp2vI13gBqFQg

I've had a variety of physical health issues over the last few years (nothing critical... although I do expect to eventually die some day 😉), and it has been fascinating to notice my experience of it all.

 

Whenever my relationship with the pain or discomfort shows up as resistance, impatience, frustration, confusion, anger, anxiousness, or depression, the experience of the pain feels amplified and tends to last longer.

 

Whenever my relationship with the pain shows up as gentle awareness, curiosity, acceptance, neutrality, or humour, or when it's not on my mind at all, the pain is less (sometimes nonexistent) and it tends to pass by more quickly.

 

It's kind of a subtle game that my thoughts and feelings play between wanting to control the pain in some way VERSUS simply navigating the appearance of the pain in whatever way makes best sense in the moment. The pain and action could be the exact same for both ways of playing the game, but it's the underlying understanding and thought-created story in the moment that informs my moment to moment experience of it.

 

For example, taking a pill for a migraine because I desperately want to get rid of it, versus taking a pill for a migraine because it occurs to me as the best remedy in the moment, are two completely different experiences.

 

I don't see myself as in "control" of any of this, in that the energy of life is much bigger than I can ever fathom... there's no real way to fully comprehend the infinitely complex systems of life and the human body, let alone the working mechanics of our thoughts and feelings.

 

I've also noticed that no specific action has ever led to any consistent result, and what leads to any specific result is always an incomprehensible amalgam of all the complexity. However, there's something incredibly powerful in appreciating just that.

 

This world and life and body I experience is exquisite and beyond wonder in its ability to function and create, despite all of the perceived resistance and interference... or perhaps in light of it? Whenever I fall back into the felt embrace of understanding that, peace always appears, even when the pain is still present.

No one ever told me about the value of knowing nothing.

 

Well, maybe they did, but it's likely I wasn't listening at the time because I thought I knew something.

 

Knowing nothing is incredibly freeing.

 

Whenever I know that I know nothing, there's no need to be right, no ego to protect, nothing to reason, defend, or justify, and nothing to fix or change.

 

Whenever I know that I know nothing, I simply navigate life from moment to moment with whatever common sense arises... and maybe I do a bit of fixing here and there, but my eyes are always left open to the next new moment that inevitably happens.

 

Whenever I know that I know nothing, I get to observe and enquire and reflect and wonder and imagine and create and appreciate. I get to play.

 

Whenever I know that I know nothing, I'm actually much kinder and much smarter and much more at peace within the depths of my soul.

 

In contrast...

 

Whenever I know that I know something, I suffer. I have to reason, justify, and defend everything that threatens it... I have to hang onto it for dear life... and so I can't help but create within me the rumbles of anger and judgment and righteousness... I can't help but start wars.

 

I wonder if that in order to live peacefully, the only thing worth knowing is to truly know that I know nothing... so that instead of building fortresses, I get to explore possibilities.

 

And I wonder what the world would be like if everyone knew that they themselves and everyone else, knew nothing too?

 

P.S. The next time I inevitably think that I know something, please kindly and gently remind me otherwise. After all, I think world peace might be at stake here.

I was 21 years old and working alone. It was not too long before my shift would end at 1:00AM at the Becker's Milk convenience store at the corner of Wyandotte St. and Lauzon Rd. in Windsor, Ontario. I was standing behind the counter, opening up various cartons of cigarettes and filling up the columned cigarette dispensers, with whatever brands were getting low, ready for the next day.

 

 

I heard the familiar bell sound as a customer entered the door and I glanced toward him.

 

He was wearing dark pants, a dark long-sleeved jacket done up to his neck, a hat, and dark sunglasses. The sunglasses were a bit unusual, but the "I Wear My Sunglasses at Night" song by Corey Hart was pretty popular at the time, so I figured he was just trying to be cool. I kinda laughed inside my head. We would get every kind of crazy in this store, so this was just the next bit of unique humanity for my amusement.

 

He came directly to the counter, stood facing me and said, "Give me all the money in the cash register".

 

I grew up in a home where there was usually more teasing than talking, and I was accustomed to looking for the joke in everything before any other intention was considered, so I thought he was kidding.

 

I laughed out loud, and said, "Yah, that's funny! What can I get you?".

 

He repeated his statement. I just laughed again, "Yah you're too funny! What do you really want?"

 

He then reached into his sleeve, pulled out a 10-inch knife and said, "I want all the money in the cash register, and I want you to give me all the money you keep underneath the counter as well."

 

No thoughts of fear went through my mind. I sort of just thought, "Oh, he wants the money", and then began doing what occurred to me, which was complying.

 

A couple of scenarios and escape options flashed through my mind.

 

The counter was quite high, so if he tried to jump over it toward me, it would be awkward for him to do, and so I knew it would give me enough time to run to the other end of the counter and out the back door. And if I saw him heading toward the opening at the other end of the counter, I knew I could easily jump over the counter at my end, and then run out the front door toward the Lion's Head Tavern across the street.

 

I pulled all of the bills out of the register, and grabbed the bundle of bills under the counter that had not yet been locked into the safe, and handed them over to him.

 

I was conscious of paying attention to the details of his appearance while I did this. For a moment I looked toward his eyes behind his glasses, and it suddenly felt personal. I got the sense that he didn't appreciate that. He paused for a second or two, staring back at me, and said, "I want you to go into the back room".

 

I already had my escape plans in mind, and this was not one of them. I didn't really have time to think what he would do if I went back there with him, but I knew it wasn't a good idea to go there. I simply said "No".

 

He paused for a moment, then started walking toward the open end of the counter. I got ready to jump over my end of the counter and make a run for it. Thankfully, he never stepped up onto the raised deck behind the counter. He simply reached toward the phone on the wall and cut the cord. I remember thinking that that was clever.

 

He then turned back around and ran out the front door. I watched him as he left, and noted his height against the height markers on the door, put there for this specific purpose. He was about 5' 10". I felt pleased for remembering to make note of that.

 

A moment later, with no ability to call the police, I grabbed the keys, went out the front door, locked it behind me, then ran across the street. I didn't go into the bar because I knew it would be dark and noisy and busy, so I went to the pizza parlour next door, told them what happened, and asked to use their phone to call the police.

 

During the whole event, and in the police investigation right after, and on my eventual drive home, I never felt fear, other than for a slight hit of discomfort when he told me to go into the back room. After it was all over, I never had any problems sleeping, and I never got scared to go back to work or to do the late shift... although at least for a while after that, I think the manager decided to have two people covering the late shift. I never had any lasting fear or trauma from the event. It just became an interesting story to talk about.

 

About 25 years later I was sleeping in my home in Winnipeg when at about 1:00AM in the morning, there was a bunch of loud noise at the door. Someone was trying to break in.

 

Upon that realization, I went into a chaotic and frenzied response. I had enough mental cognition to get to the phone and dial 911 but I was barely able to answer the operator's questions. I was stuttering and couldn't get any of my words out in clear sentences.

 

Thoughts raced through my mind about the possibility of how I could respond if he got into the house, but every option seemed inadequate and hopeless. I had no plan that felt in any way safe or obvious. I kept imagining the worst.

 

Fortunately the police were able to get there in a couple of minutes. It ended up being a really drunk guy who had the wrong house and was angrily and aggressively trying to get in.

 

I've had other fearful events happen in my life. Sometimes I've been in a state of complete calm and clarity... I was even in a car crash once where time slowed down, and where I somehow dropped into a surreal state "beyond calm" where I knew exactly what to do, like I was directing a stop-motion ballet. At other urgent events, I've been overwhelmed and much less than clear.

 

Since those events and some insights into the nature of thought and life, I've gained a much clearer understanding of fear...

 

Fear is not at all necessary to create action, and in fact, when it's held onto, it just gets in the way of clarity.

 

It isn't up to me personally as to how I end up feeling in an urgent situation. Sometimes fear appears and sometimes it doesn't.

 

Even those who are highly trained for urgent and dangerous situations, can still lose their calm, fall into an experience of fearful thought and feeling, and then freeze up or overreact.

 

I can't fear any person, event, or thing... I can only ever fear the made up stories that somehow appear in my mind.

 

Fear doesn't happen because of a person, event, or thing... fear happens because of the thinking that somehow appears in my mind that, in that moment, I take seriously, and give meaning and significance.

 

Fear is not to be feared. It's simply a temporary moment of busy insecure thought and feeling, focused on the past or the future instead of the present.

 

Fear never tells any truth about the current event nor does it accurately predict what will happen or not happen.

 

The presence (or non-presence) of fear only gives some sense of how unclear (or clear) my thinking is in the moment.

 

I can still function when fear appears... it's just not as pretty or effective, and it offers a lot less options.

 

The human default state is calm, clear, and present... fear is just moments of a temporary add-on of creative thought and feeling.

 

Even with a clear understanding of what fear is, it still arises within me (and falls away again) in all its various forms... whether for the urgent or the non-urgent. I'm now just a lot less likely to be interested in it, to believe in it, to pay attention to it, or to give it significance, whenever it happens to arise.

 

Fear happens, but it's nice to know that it's not at all necessary.

Latest comments

08.01 | 00:46

Thank you Jonelle, I'll do that. Best wishes, Conrad

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07.01 | 19:22

They're not available publicly as far as I know. Maybe try reaching out to Linda Quiring? I don't have an email, but she's on Facebook.

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07.01 | 12:48

I am looking for the earliest recordings of Syd, before the 3 Principles Psychology thing took off, when he spoke about the meaning of life, spiritually...

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01.01 | 14:45

There's also insights about procrastination on the "Procrastination" page on this site.

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