I see this happening over and over again at camp. So many people come through here every summer, that it’s an interesting place to observe how people respond and react to things.
Like rules, for example. Even though camp literature says, “No dogs allowed at camp”, people bring their dogs right into the chapel. Even though it is made very clear that campers are not allowed to bring their cell phones to camp, kids keep trying to sneak them in.
But here’s the problem: every time someone breaks a rule, they have such a good reason – that poor pooch can’t stay in a hot car, and there was no one who could take care of him while the family came to camp. Or that cell phone is absolutely necessary, because that child cannot lose connection with the outside world for even one week of camp.
I am the exception. My needs are different than the needs of everybody else. My dog is special. My child is special. I have good reasons for why I am the exception to every rule.
I watch that attitude around me, and it bothers me, but really, do I not do the same thing sometimes?
When I’m in a long line of traffic, waiting to get into the other lane, it is so easy to get impatient because people aren’t letting me in. I’m in a rush, and it is obviously more important for me to get into the other lane than it is for anyone else. They don’t know what I’m late for! They don’t know why my life is more important than theirs!
Except that it’s not. My life is just one of the lives waiting in that everlasting line of traffic. Everyone is trying to get somewhere, otherwise they wouldn’t be sitting in traffic. Everyone has an important schedule, an important life.
But we all sit there, thinking that we are the exception, making up a long line of people living in our own little worlds, thinking that ours is the world.
I’m trying to get in the habit of seeing “the bigger picture”. Trying to get creative about imagining what life might be like for the next person, and trying to get outside of my little world so that I don’t keep thinking that it all has to revolve around me.
Give up my turn in traffic? Give up my spot in the line for the check-out at the grocery store? (Ouch!) Give up my cart that still contains the sacred loonie that must never be used for anything other than the cart at Superstore?
Oh, the stingy part of me has a hard time with thoughts like that when I’m in a rush, and I have my life perfectly planned out to the last second. But part of me really wants to be giving, creatively generous, and mindful of the fact that everyone has a good reason (to them) as to why they are doing what they’re doing.