Life’s Expectations

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“I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man’s self-respect is a sin.”  Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“I think a lot of people have lost respect for the individual, you know, the individual, the person who doesn’t conform.” Erykah Badu

How we view the world can influence our actions every day. When we are in the womb we have the same temperature for the most part, and we eat whenever and however much we want. We always hang out with our mothers and feel continuous love.  After we are born things change. We are still with mom a good deal of time, but dinner may not always be on cue. Staying warm is a tough problem, especially if we were born in the winter time. We cry when we need attention, food, warmth or anything else. We usually receive care within a small wait time.As we mature we realize there are others in the universe needing attention, and we must wait our turn. It isn’t an extended waiting, but when you are used to immediate action, it can appear to be long. The teenage years allow us more attention, as we bend and stretch the rules. Parents allow us more time to heal our pain and tribulations.

After graduation, parents slow down and we must pick up speed, if we want to move forward. Suddenly there is nobody jumping to please us except ourselves. We want for a lot of things and begin to find it difficult to attain anything.  We have entered the world of responsibility. We are surprised when we apply for jobs and get refused. Our opinions of ourselves are high, as are our expectations. It is discouraging to suffer defeat. At first we are confused. We thought it would be so much easier than it is. How and why did this happen, we question. Our parents supported us for many years, and convinced us we were not only perfect, but invincible. We never considered another person to be as worthy as we are.

It is difficult to step back, and make room for others. We do not remember learning anything about waiting our turn, or conceding to another, or considering other people’s hopes and dreams and feelings. Actually we did not consider anyone. Now we observe a world,  full of needy people like ourselves, and it isn’t a pretty site. How did we not see this before now? How will we be able to cope with this new occurrence? Sometimes we resort back to babyhood, and become more demanding, and we ignore the wants and needs of others. It only matters that we are happy, and we get our just rewards.

Comprehending setbacks is impossible. We ruthlessly plan our actions, and our motives are not always honorable. We have discovered that in order to get ahead, we must be close to cruelty, and take no prisoners. Our actions are strong, assertive and straightforward. They begin to pay off for us. We get the jobs, earn the pay raises and move forward with our plans. We are never afraid to speak up. We may avoid arguments, but we know who to stand beside if there is a battle or  war. We are not going down. We see the whole picture now, and if we are to have our requirements met, we accept ruthless behavior.

The trouble is we realize at some point, that we can’t distinguish where and when our manner and ethics should be acceptable behavior. We begin to find ourselves treating everyone in the same way, at any given moment. Even our parents take some hits in the form of abrupt criticism, confrontations, and lack of compromise. We alleviate any guilt by our awareness that brutal truth is better than sugar coated lies. We admonish ourselves for our lack of time to sugar coat the facts. Others must learn to deal with truth, and with our new attitude.

When another retaliates back at us in similar fashion we are aghast. How dare they treat us that way we think. It enrages us and we fiercely fight back. In the aftermath the wounds leave scars and nothing is the same. We mentally chide their persistence in continuing the altercation. It could have ended sooner and smoother. What were they trying to accomplish. In all of this we never think about what we were attempting to accomplish. Nothing will ever be the same including ourselves.

We can still hold our head high. Others treat us with respect and step out of our way. Some even fear to disagree with us about anything. That’s okay, we are respected. Our home environment is a bit  strained because our spouse and kids challenge our authority. We  are good managers and we keep our family, in their place. After all, we have always wanted what is best for the family. We must help our neighbor with some project this  weekend. They helped us so we have no choice.  We hope it rains.

As we glance in the mirror we pass by, we notice the seriousness of the person’s face. We hardly recognize it as our own. The lines droop down a bit and there is no  recognition of a smile. We think  about smiling, but it feels unnatural. It feels goofy so  we stop trying. We will just avoid mirrors. Days and years pass and we wonder who we have become. We hardly know ourselves anymore. Our spouse treads lightly when we are around, and the kids who have all grown and moved on hardly share much with us. We observe them engage with their own spouse, and we wonder what it is about. We  do have their respect we consider. At that moment in time we question what respect is.

Respect does not have to be separated from love. As a matter of fact when we love someone, it is so  easy to respect them. On a distant day we discover we have confused the definition of respect. By doing so we lost love. We were never respected even by our kids. We were feared. As a young man or woman, people didn’t challenge us, or disagree with us, because they feared us. Our family refrained from sharing much, because they feared us. They stayed out of our way, not out of respect but fear. Our family continued to  come to our aid out of love not respect.

We never understood that. The friends we chose were conditional friends. They did things for us, provided we returned the favor. How sweet it would be to have friends or family, who did things for us without conditions. Having no tally sheet would be real love . After living our lives in total disregard of others, we have learned the truth at last. You can’t demand respect. If you demand respect, you gain adherence to your will, out of fear not love.

When you earn respect from love you have captured a treasure. You wield the  same power. Fear only wins, until another is feared more than you are. Love takes time, effort and patience. Once earned, the respect is unending. We even have to earn our kids respect. It doesn’t come from simply being mom or dad. It is never too late to change. It is only sorrowful, if one doesn’t try. Once we acknowledge our lack of empathy towards other living creatures, we are surely on the path to genuine respect, which partners with love. All that’s required is time and effort and most importantly love.

Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.    Albert Camus

When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments; tenderness for what he is, and respect for what he may become.    Louis Pasteur

Respect is one of the greatest expressions of love.    Miguel Angel Ruiz

   

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