Friday, July 16, 2004

Even In Paradise...

While I was up at camp last summer I spent the better part of one day cutting up a tree that had fallen the previous winter. It had threatened rain all day so the skies were cloudy and an occasional light shower would pass through but not enough to stop working. I was enjoying the outdoors and the physical exertion.
I had just cut about half of the tree up into logs when my closest neighbor pulled up on his ATV and stopped for a chat. He is from New Jersey and lives on the pond each summer. We had only been talking for a few minutes when he turned very negative about his life as a retired person.
It was clear that even in this beautiful setting with the pond in front of us and the mountains all around us that he was very unhappy. I let him ramble on about his troubles for a while but the more I listened the more drained of energy I felt. Have you ever felt that way with negative people?
It seemed to me that he was full of excuses for himself and had lots of blame for other people.  His happiness was completely given over to other people - the last boss that "forced" him to retire 10 years ago, the kids that no longer listen him, the road commission that won't fix his road.
I was polite and tried to be encouraging but he was having none of it. His life was rotten and that was all there was to it.

Everyone has problems, but have you noticed that not everyone allows those problems to rule them. However, negative people have a way of spreading dark clouds around to anyone who will listen.
When he finally rode way I did not feel like finishing the job - but I did anyway. Not until I was finished, did I feel as if I had shed the negativity from our conversation.
Mahatma Gandhi said it well when he said: "I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet."
Life is short - none of us have the time to waste on the negative - my happiness is dependent on no one but myself.


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