I often find it difficult to understand other people. I guess it is because I expect them to act as I would act, to think as I would think, and to feel the way I would feel. Then I am disappointed when they don’t respond with what I perceive as logical, intelligent or moral actions. When I was younger I hoped to change other people and make them see the dangers of their stupid or evil ways. I was most adamant about changing my brothers, then a few friends, my first husband, my uncle. I soon learned that I can’t change anyone except me.
These days my only hope is to influence a few people. Perhaps I can lead by example. Perhaps I can do a few things that other people will want to emulate. Perhaps I can offer a little guidance when it is solicited. But most of the people I know and love have to make their own mistakes and suffer their own consequences, even if they are on the wrong path. I can’t do it for them.
I walk a fine line as a teacher. Most of my parents are young enough to be my children, but I am NOT their mother. So I give academic advice and offer my professional opinion about their child’s progress in school. I say the things I’m expected to say. But I have to bite my tongue sometimes because what I want to tell them is that they are making some terrible mistakes as parents. I’m often aware of the mistakes because I made them too. Sometimes I’m just an experienced observer who has seen hundreds of other young parents make the same mistake. And I’m not always sure of the best way to handle another person’s problems, so my advice might not even be as helpful as I imagine. One of the many reasons why life is so complicated, and so, so fascinating.
So, I may be disappointed in the actions of a few people this week, but I know that I need to look in the mirror and work on my own problems. By the time I get through with that project I won’t have time for anyone else.