I am very much the kind of person that when I see a problem I want to jump in and fix it. I have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and assume if I don’t take care of something, it won’t get done. I’m reminded this week that actually, if I don’t do something, I leave space for someone else to take care of it.
This notion has come up several times this week. I’ll give a small example. On Friday night, I walked by my neighbor’s apartment and I noticed her curtains were open. Through the curtains I saw candles burning and she wasn’t home. Me, being who I am right now, freaked out and started envisioning her place burning down, and then my cottage burning down because I’m her neighbor. I thought about knocking on her door, or calling the manager, or the fire department, or somebody because this needed to be taken care of RIGHT NOW.
My intuition said, “Hold up sugar. You don’t need to rush to her aid.” I didn’t quite believe this (my fear impulse can be VERY strong), so I went outside again to make sure I still saw candles burning. When I did, her cat skittered by, which reminded me he hadn’t been fed yet or put back inside, so I knew someone else would see the candles and take care of it when they checked on the cat. Sure enough, half an hour later, her curtain was drawn and then her lights went out so the whole drama that I concocted resolved itself without me having to lift a finger.
I forget this lesson regularly, that other people can manage the affairs of life. I forget that by me always jumping in, always coming to the rescue, I’m depriving someone else of their chance to step up. I guess what I’m saying is I don’t always have to be in charge, I don’t always have to be the leader, I don’t always have to volunteer to organize. If I don’t, someone else will. That’s not to say I need to go to the other extreme and always allow other people to step up, but I can start to have more balance. I can take the middle road and recognize some things will get taken care of, even if it’s not by me.
I dream of a world where we understand we don’t always have to take care of everything. A world where we let other people step up as need be. A world where we realize we don’t have to be in charge all of the time. A world where we give space for someone else.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.