Living Better

What Egging Cars Taught Me About Empathy

What Egging Cars Taught Me About Empathy

I was born and raised in the inner city of Denver. So, when my parents moved to suburbia, I took all the tricks with me.

As a kid, on occasion, I used to throw small rocks, sand, branches, and occasional pop-bottle rockets (when available—thank you 4th of July)…at passing cars. Just for fun…and the thrill.

Fun = very cool to hit a moving target.

Thrill = when the car stops, you run like hell to save your skin.

***

I raised chickens as a teenager. Most of my hens laid brown eggs and would lay throughout the day, which came in handy later on for a fun, thrill-seeking delinquent.

“Here,” I said to my buddy as I handed him a freshly laid egg.

“What?” he asked with a grin, knowing full well what my intentions were.

“Come on, it’ll be fun,” I retorted. Then, I gave him the precise military plan how we were going to ingress the field of battle, execute our diabolical sortie, and egress with minimal casualties. And, ultimately, have our alibi down just in case.

Like I said, I brought all my tricks.

So, we, two thirteen-year-olds set out to egg a car with the most awesome ammo ever…freshly laid eggs!

Enter the station wagon. Perfect. Long, slow-moving target. Who can’t hit that?

SPLAT, and then…SPLAT. Perfect in execution.

As expected, said station wagon screeched to a halt, but a bit earlier than expected.

“Holy shit,” I yelled to my buddy.

A very mad looking, fast moving dude, jumped out of the slow-moving station wagon. He was pissed.

Turned out later, he was the Fire Chief for the Bancroft Fire Department. Yep, the big cheese.

He saw us, but we were faster.

Yet, we only had thirteen years of life experience behind us—a tad shallow for such an operation.

We ran, ducked, and jumped into my backyard; then shimmied into my bedroom window; then, turned on some music.

Oh, and laughed our butts off…until, my Dad opened my bedroom door.

“Come here,” he told us while motioning an authoritative finger at us. “There’s a man out here that says two kids just egged his car, and he thinks they live here.”

“Really?” I replied rhetorically. Not giving anything to chance, I quickly started with our alibi, “Well, Randy and I have been listening to music…in my room.”

Next, we were paraded outside by my Dad in tow.

The accuser handed my Dad a broken, brown eggshell and declared, “No, these aren’t the kids I saw. They had different colored shirts on.”

I couldn’t believe what I just heard.

Honest, we didn’t change our T-shirts; we weren’t that smart.

Then, he declared to my Dad that the egg was a chocolate covered egg.

I shrugged.

Randy, too frozen in his sneakers to think, no less speak, looked a bit like a frog in a hail storm.

I spoke for both of us, “Um, we don’t have any chocolate covered eggs. Besides, we were in my bedroom. Didn’t see anybody,” I explained to both accuser and possible executioner: Dad.

After a few tense and unnerving moments of conversation between my Dad and the Fire Chief, we were allowed to leave.

I remember that my Dad gave me a slight grin at the time. Hm.

***

A silly story I suppose just to say that I have thrown a lot of crap at a lot of people over the years…

Anger, guilt trips, judgmental opinions that melted the frailest of individuals.

No doubt, I burned a lot of people…all in the name of being righteous.

More like self-righteous.

Yes, I thought my glass house was safe as I tossed a lot of stuff at others. Usually behind their backs.

If your belief system didn’t fit into my box, I judged you harshly.

If your family life didn’t fit into my box, I criticized you ruthlessly.

If you wore your hair a color that didn’t fit my expectations, wore clothes I thought were too whatever, you spoke like, I don’t know, someone who shouldn’t, or just lived your life differently than others…I judged, condemned, and pretty much threw the biggest egg at you I could find.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Why did he do that?”, or “How come this?” or “How come that?”

Only later, to repeat the same thing myself.

Then, you learn empathy.

Empathy is hard to teach someone.

You don’t learn empathy by memorizing a sterile definition.

Sometimes, you learn empathy by going through difficult and trying times that forge you into who you are today.

You learn that just because someone lives in a camper, or out of their car, doesn’t mean they’re cooking meth.

You learn that not everyone who goes through a divorce is a subpar individual who doesn’t know how to make life work.

You learn that when life beats a person up and they’re hurting, confused, numb, and bleeding out internally, does not mean that somehow, God is judging them, or that Karma got ‘em.

Maybe, just maybe, they’re like you and me who have simply lived life, and life has tossed them a nasty curveball.

Maybe, just maybe, through no fault of their own, bad things just sort of…happened.

Bewildered, they’re no different from you and I…looking for some compassion, looking for a release that, hopefully, someone would come up alongside and help pop open the valve to let all the pressure hiss out.

***

It’s too bad we learn such things later in life.

Just something to think about.

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Leadership, Life Hack, Living Better, Self-Improvement, 0 comments
How I Remain Fluid in Times of Change

How I Remain Fluid in Times of Change

Change, without sounding too cliché-ish, is inevitable.

I know you know that. But do we really consider what that means on a daily approach to living in a world where there are unknown variables that pop up and come as a total surprise?

Summer waxes old in the northern hemisphere and Fall is waiting patiently to step through the door of seasons.

Even the seasons tell us that change is all around us.

I’ve even seen a little yellow in the leaves starting lately around where I live.

It doesn’t matter if you have come to a place in life and said, “Enough! I’m going to finally do something about this (whatever this is) and I’m going to do X, Y, & Z now.”

Or, life throws you a curve ball and you find yourself in a place of change.

Some changes are planned, intentional, and purposely acted upon.

Some changes are completely out of our control, forced upon us by external circumstances that we didn’t know existed, or didn’t factor into our plans of living life.

Or, as a mentor of mine told me long ago—“Christian, it’s never just one thing”—more than likely it’s a combination of those factors above.

***

I have set out to make changes, to improve myself, my quality of life; to set myself in a place to thrive and flourish, to excel and become more productive; to live free of bone-crushing debt, to live in peace; only find that the changes I set out to make have been met with unexpected and unforeseen circumstances that have caused me to veer off the course that I originally planned to take.

Welcome to the real world.

It can be bewildering at times!

Bewildering and confusing and anxiety-producing when real life clashes into my world of expectations based on…I don’t know what.

I tend to think in linear and logical terms. I have a plan. And that plan means that X + Y better equal Z. But…it rarely does.

And when it doesn’t, I tend to shrink into my shell, hide from others, hide from life, slink to the darkest areas of any cave that I can find that’s deep, cold, and dark.

Which means that I begin to question whether I made a huge mistake in making certain decisions, then try to hang onto past titles and glories and exploits that put me on top of the game in certain fields and careers.

But that just grinds regret into my soul which feels like broken glass tumbling around in my veins with every heartbeat and then I forget to practice gratefulness.

***

Fluid means this as an adjective — able to flow easily; smoothly elegant or graceful.

Funny how that we desire change, or when the unexpected happens and change is forced upon us and we must change (or a life situation changes), that we can be so darn rigid in our approach to life.

I find that in dealing with change, being Fluid — to flow smoothly, elegantly (of course if you’re like me, smooth is a term associated with tripping on a crack in the sidewalk)—in life, relieves the tension and anxiety within the change.

How do I do that?

  • – I reflect. I flesh out what is and has happened through journaling. This item helps me to put into perspective life and my feelings and how I’m thinking about said changes. And gaining perspective on the happenings of life and those changes in front of me is half the battle.
  • – I practice gratefulness. This one thing is almost like magic. I believe in magic. Every day, I think of 10 things I am grateful for. If I’m sitting in mind-boggling traffic, I think how grateful I am that I’m forced to slow down and see the shapes in the clouds above or the graceful flight of birds or the shapes and colors around me that I take for granted because I’m too hurried. Gratefulness has a way of changing my perspective on life. Again, our perspective determines much of how we live our reality.
  • – Stay connected. This one is extremely tough for me. I’m an introvert. Extroverts don’t understand this about introverts…we need alone time to recharge. But that alone time can be a form of escape to the point introverts don’t want to come up for air and peek outside at life around. If I can connect with at least one person, then I usually can keep from sinking into despair. That’s critical when things just don’t go how I planned.

For now, I’ll count this article as a journal entry. The next item to practice is gratefulness. Then, I’ll make it a point to make a connection today.

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Life Hack, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement, Suicide, 0 comments