Monday, January 28, 2008


Although we live in the country, we have a lot of neighbors. The only way to get where people can't see me on our 42 acres is to walk back to my cabin, which is far enough down an incline to be out of sight even of the monstrosity of a three-story house a next-door neighbor is erecting. The above picture was taken in 2005, when my much-heavier-then husband was putting the cabin in place. (For my newer readers, it's just an old poolside shed someone gave us that Cliff fixed up for me, a retreat where my dog and I sometimes spend a night, enjoying the seclusion and the campfire.)

Being a loner at heart, I have had a tendency to complain about having so many people living nearby, but this morning the realization hit me that if it weren't for one of our neighbors, Cliff wouldn't have the good job he's now held for fifteen years. There's another fellow across the highway with whom Cliff rides to work, saving us a fortune in gasoline and wear-and-tear on our car. And before I retired, there was a neighbor with whom I rode to work often.

Cliff and I often laugh about the entertainment value of neighbors as we peer out the window to see what they're up to: "Look, Cliff! I think there's something funny going on over there!"

Don't laugh, you'll be old someday, watching the neighbors out the window. It happens to the best of us.

In line with the judgmental attitude I mentioned yesterday, there's the fact that we can find all sorts of faults in the neighbors, resulting in a holier-than-thou feeling: "Good grief, that woman's getting fat; she needs to go on a diet." "I wonder just how much money they spend on drugs over there?" "When our kids were home, we never let them run the neighborhood like that." "Looks like they're fighting again."

There's so much more, but you surely get the idea.

Reminds me of the old Kristofferson song, "Jesus Was A Capricorn":

Jesus was a Capricorn, he ate organic foods.
He believed in love and peace and never wore no shoes.
Long hair, beard and sandals and a funky bunch of friends.
Reckon they'd just nail him up if He come down again.

'Cause everybody's got to have somebody to look down on.
Who they can feel better than at anytime they please.
Someone doin' somethin' dirty, decent folks can frown on.
If you can't find nobody else, then help yourself to me.

Eggheads cussin' rednecks, cussin' hippies for their hair.
Others laugh at straights who laugh at freaks who laugh at squares.
Some folks hate the whites who hate the blacks who hate the Klan.
Most of us hate anything that we don't understand.

'Cause everybody's got to have somebody to look down on.
Who they can feel better than at anytime they please.
Someone doin' somethin' dirty that decent folks can frown on.
If you can't find nobody else, then help yourself to me.

I kid you not, I am working on this trait of mine. Not just watching what I say, but being careful what I think. I am mentally slapping myself at least a dozen times a day when I catch myself criticizing someone I see on the street or on television. Or someone whose words I might read in a blog.

It's changing the way I look at myself and at life.

I'm learning that I'm not such hot stuff after all.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Words of Jesus, found in Matthew 7:3-5

Now playing: Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir - Only a Look
via FoxyTunes


Midlife Mom said...

Boy do I hear you on this one! I struggle constantly with this and try to 'bridle my tongue' when I hear myself crabbing about someone else. I need to work harder at it.

Yes we have shelters here where I live but when I saw Noodles and Munchie at the Florida shelter I just fell in love with them on the spot and just had to have them. I have taken a bit of criticism here for bringing them home and not getting cats from a local shelter but when I went in there it was just to visit all of the cats. We have been going to this particular convention for 12 or 13 years and I have always enjoyed going to visit the cats and this is the first time I brought any home. I guess where I had just lost two of my old cats in the summer due to old age I was in the market for some more but wasn't even thinking in those terms when I walked into the shelter. I'm glad I did though, they are the best buddies anyone could have!

Yeah, I think I will keep my name, I HATE changes too! Is it our age or what?!! lol!

Spyder said...

Great post! Get a tattoo that changes your view of other people & other people's view of you.

Waldo Oiseau said...

I agree with Spyder. Excellent post. It's great that you've written about this topic ... it encourages the rest of us to take a look and see ways in which we can also work on being less judgemental. None of us are perfect and as you say, we just have to do the best we can.

Diane J. said...

If we're honest I think everyone struggles with being critical of others, Donna. Well, some people seem to criticize with abandon and don't struggle with it at all, LOL! See, I just criticized people who are critics, LOL! ;o)

Anyway, we all need improvement in that area, I think. I know I do...Some days I do better than others.

I love your little getaway. Sounds like my kind of place. I love the woods and just sitting around a campfire at night. I love to camp out, really camping, no electricity, etc.

Hope you have a good week.



Joyful Days said...

Kris Kristofferson is great!! Super song. And how true. This is something I need to work on more.

A couple nights ago my husband and I were "fixing the world" and I said, "If they'd act like us it would be great!" We both got a laugh out of that.

I love your cabin. That is awesome.