About a week ago, I was outside with my dog for his morning business.
Petey is an awesome dog – fun, loving, loyal – unless there’s another dog around. He came from a shelter and is a bit emotionally damaged. Other dogs freak him out, and he can get very aggressive (barking, snarling) when he sees them, whether they are near him or not. When they get close by, he goes insane. My wife Tracy and I refer to it as “going Cujo”, and that’s not an exaggeration. Luckily, he’s a small (30 to 35 pounds) Corgi mix, so the leash and harness allow us to manage him, but it is difficult.
Anyway… I’m outside with him at about 4:30 am, and I notice another dog owner out there. When this happens, I always do my best to move away. Since it’s my dog who’s the asshole, I figure it’s my responsibility to do the moving.
But… this person starts coming toward me with their dog in tow. I stand there, talking softly to Petey, telling him it’s OK, telling him to be a good boy.
“Do you have a key to the apartment building? I locked myself out.”
No, not the most compassionate response. I’ve locked myself out of the building myself a few times, but luckily my wife has always been home when I’ve done it so she can just let me in. It must really suck to not have someone to do that for you. If the person didn’t have a dog with them, it wouldn’t have been a problem at all, but I know what’s coming.
I realize there’s a solution!
“The side door is unlocked,” I tell her. “Just go in through there.”
“But the inside doors…”
“The one on the first floor hasn’t locked in the two+ years I’ve lived here. You can get to the elevators that way.”
“But the inside doors lock.”
“No, it’s unlocked. You can get in that way.”
“But the inside doors lock, and I won’t be able to get to my floor.”
“You can go through the side door, then the inside door, then the elevator.”
“But the inside doors lock.”
OK… I guess she needs her hand held. Here we go.
She’s between me and the path leading to the doors. So I start walking toward her and her dog to get by her and there goes Petey. Barking, snarling, up on his hind legs, pulling at the leash trying to get at the other dog.
She gives me almost no room to get by, but I manage and get to the door. I open the outside door without my key and point to the inner one. “That door is unlocked. It’ll get you to your apartment.”
“No, it’s locked.”
“I promise you… go up there and you’ll be able to open the door.”
She grudgingly gets by me (freaking Petey out even more) and goes to the door. She turns the handle, and low and behold, it’s unlocked and she gets through.
The response you’d expect? “Wow, thank you!”
The response I got? “Well, these are supposed to be locked!” as she goes through the door without another word.
“Supposed to be” is not equal to “is”.
I understood that she was having a hard time. Locking yourself out of your building at 4:30 am is a pain in the ass at best, scary at worst. She was reacting to her situation with anger and wanted someone to fix it for her.
Again, not my most compassionate moment. Now I see I should have shot her some metta – “May she be free from suffering.”
When do I just stand around and wait for a savoir, consciously or not? When do I not try solutions that are offered to me? When do I not even look for a solution? When do I just sit around and give up, completely misusing the principle of acceptance?
What doors are wide open in my own life – physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, socially, etc. – that I assume are locked and I can’t get into? What could I be, do, and have if I’d just make a tiny bit of effort and try to open the door?
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. It’s usually necessary if we want to do something we haven’t done before. That’s something I need to work on myself. But once a solution is offered, we need to try it before discounting it.
What door do you assume is locked and haven’t even tried to open in your own life? Even if you’ve tried before, try again. Ask for help, then implement the solution if it isn’t something you’ve actually tried to do before. And if that doesn’t work, try again, look again, ask again. There are two possible outcomes – you’ll eventually find a solution, or you’ll die before that happens. Since you’re going to die anyway, you might as well spend your time working on getting those doors open.
It’s way better than standing outside the apartment building of life waiting for your key to come.