Change in routine

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

When a loved one dies, your entire routine may flip over.

This morning I got talking to my neighbour whose father died about a month ago. He had passed on at the grand age of 102.

For the last few years, it was my neighbour’s daily routine to check in on his father in the late afternoon. They lived in separate houses, but were just round the corner from each other, so checking in on him was fairly convenient from a location perspective. However, I suspect may have been also been a bit of a drag to have had to do it every single day.

A month since his father’s death and wherever my neighbour is, he still habitually checks his watch as it approaches 4:30pm, thinking that he needs to return home to check on his father.

Some routines take a while to adjust away from.

Death at birth

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

When someone dies at the age of 90 having lived a long and full life, it may be difficult to lose them, but not so hard to accept.

When someone dies in their 50s following a long-term struggle with cancer, it is certainly hard to see them go, but still kind of makes sense. It’s almost expected.

But for a child to die at birth – how do you reconcile that?

A friend recently shared about one lady she knows whose baby died during childbirth. Nine months of carrying a precious child inside her. Months of joy, of anticipation, of anxiety and of preparation. Weeks and weeks of talk about the ‘bump’ and plans for the child’s future.

And for what? To lose this delicate young person before he’s even had the chance to have a go at life. To make something of himself in this big badass world. To soak up the love of all those around him and in return contibute to the well-being of his community.

How could he be taken away within moments of making his grand entrance into this world? Before his personality could be etched into the hearts of those around him. Before he even had the chance to shine his first smile.

This is a sad story, one with a reminder, that our life could be over at any point in time. That any one of us could be here one moment and gone the next. That this precious human life is so delicate, that every second counts.

That child lived for a mere thirty seconds. You and I sharing these words right now, have lived a considerable amount of time longer. But that time too is running out.

Figure out what’s important to you to make this precious life worthwhile. Figure it out before that choice is no longer yours.

Understanding inappropriate behaviour

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

When you see someone behaving inappropriately, what feelings arise in you and how do you approach the situation?

A friend was recently telling me about a party he attended several years ago where there was this one married man in his mid 40s, who was slightly drunk and was chatting up many of the other women in the room. My friend was furious at this guy’s behaviour. This guy appeared sleazy and was tarnishing an otherwise fun night out for everyone else there.

Several months later, my friend had a chance meeting with this ‘sleazy’ man at a community group meeting, and it turned out that the guy had a young daughter with a severe case of autism, where she woud continually bite into furniture, just like a dog. This guy was struggling to look after his daugher and he was simply acting out. He was not himself. His behaviour at the party was clearly inappropriate, which he himself had recognised, but had resorted to drinking his sorrows away and attempting to find an escape from the struggles of his day-to-day reality.

My friend, upon learning the truth of this guy’s situation, felt great sadness. In fact, even while recounting the story to me, he had tears rolling down his eyes. He had vowed that from that day on, he would never again let first impressions count so much for how he viewed the people in the world around him. He resolved to discover the underlying truth of the situation, the struggle, fear or sorrow that somebody is going through, and sought to make sense of their behaviour, nomatter how inappropriate they behaved.

Opening eyes to sorrow

I’m grateful my friend had shared that story with me. It helped to open my eyes to the reality of just how much our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues in the world around us struggle to survive in life and make sense of the situations they face.

It helped me to notice where I lack compassion and understanding, and the work I now need to do to better tolerate and care for those around us who just want acknowledgement that life IS tough.

When they behave inappropriately

It may be that someone is drunk and seemingly uncrontrollable at a party, drowning away their sorrows of a broken relationship or the sudden death of an adored spouse.

Perhaps they have their feet up on a seat in the bus with music blaring out of their earphones, attempting to drown out the troubles of the world around them, yet never really being able to mask the deafening noise of their minds.

It could be that they are a colleague being controlling yet hostile, attempting to take charge of their working environment while a messy divorce is crumbling the stability of family life from under their feet.

Responding to inappropriate behaviour

Step back a moment and just observe how they’re behaving. See it for what it is. Separate their actions from how you feel about it. Start with the assumption that their inappropriate behaviour is not who they are at their core.

But please don’t for one moment think I am suggesting that you just let them continue to behave in this way. We all have a responsibilty to help improve the world around us and give support to those who are silently crying out for it.

You may find that it is your duty to do something about it – perhaps to hear them out and if they ask for guidance, then to suggest something that may help them. It may also be your duty to take care of the people that their actions are affecting.

Life ain’t easy, not for any of us

It’s clearly evident that this life is not easy. Not for any one of us.

We may have health, but be lacking in money. We may have millions in the bank, but no real friends to trust and care for. We may have friends and plenty of money, but be struck with a terminal illness.

We may appear to have it all – health, wealth, friendship – but still the greed of wanting more, or the fear of it all inevitably coming to an end.

Life is certainly not easy, for any one of us.

Less expecting, more understanding

Perhaps with a little more care, compassion and understanding, the way we respond to other people’s behaviour will be based on a deeper appreciation of what they are going through and founded on the truth of the situation, rather than our own expectations and judgements.

Then and only then will we see the world for what it is, our life for what it is.

No more facades. No more hiding from the truth. No more disappointment from expectations not met.

Just more care, more compassion and more understanding.