Tag Archives: compassion

Do you care?

Broken WindowWhen someone comes into our lives for a season, sometimes you get far more from them than what they take. That was the case with Sergio, a Hispanic boarder who spent five months in my home. I’ve spent a lot of time in contemplation over Sergio, after he left, and now I’m ready to tell you what I learned most from Sergio. I learned I care. However, it’s not the type of personal caring you might be thinking of, no it’s something quite unusual that I never noticed until I saw it manifested in Sergio’s every move within my household. You see, I didn’t understand it at first, but Sergio cares. About me? Not so much. I think he cares about life, and that’s what truly puzzled me.

Taking Time To Notice And Heal The Past

You see, Sergio had some odd personal habits that I realized were to my advantage to emulate, but no one had ever modeled them for me. I explained to him when he first came into the household and he started discovering broken items hidden away in cupboards, closets, and sheds, that I knew they were broken. It pained me so much to be unable to fix them, that I hid them away rather than have to look at them. Then, I would forget about them, until something else broke. I attributed this behavior to a lack of money, but Sergio just shook his head and took it upon himself to start to clear out all my cupboards, my closets, my sheds, and one by one fix everything. The broken weed eater: Fixed. The broken pipe: Fixed. The broken washing machine: Fixed. Then, came the cleaning and re-organizing. My daughter said to me:  “Sergio’s obssesive-compulsive.” I told her in all seriousness that he was giving us a gift and that we should pay attention, appreciate it, and try to emulate these behaviors instead of criticizing them. However, I too was puzzled for a while.

Why Don’t We Do It Ourselves?

Finally, Sergio sat me down and asked me why I never did these things myself, and I told him the truth. I had no idea how to. No one had ever taught me to care. In the garden, for instance, I had tried to grow tomatoes the previous year and failed miserably. It wasn’t until he told me to be careful with the watering that I realized my mistake with all my vegetables: I had to water underneath the plant in the morning or in late afternoon instead of mid-day so as not to get water on the leaves and have them burned when the mid-day sun evaporated on them. No one ever told me that, until he came in. Instead, what made the most sense to me was that the plants were “thirsty” in the middle of the day when the sun was brightest, and they would be cooler if I sprayed them all over, thus effectively killing off all my vegetables. All I had to do was take more care, not earn more money or waste more water, and I found I produced more than enough to eat during the summer months.

The Spiritual Lesson Of Poverty

Where did Sergio learn all this? He grew up dirt poor in Mexico, the eldest of four children from a single mother who worked in a factory to support them. His grandparents had orchards to sustain them. However, he was so poor, his school backpack was his mother’s worn out purses and he had no shoes. From this life of what we consider extreme poverty in the US, he learned to care for each and every little thing in his life. He learned to appreciate it and make it last. He learned to fix it, when it broke. I can’t help but think that this is what is missing in our American culture. We’ve forgotten how to care in the same way that Sergio cares. Millions of Americans are facing hard financial times. Instead of cursing the darkness, let’s look at how we can care more about our lives. If we would open our hearts and look at everything from the smallest blade of grass to the large houses we live in, and really care in a deep and intimate way that respects all of life, I’m sure even a lack of money would be no obstacle to creating a life of pure joy and perfection.

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Kids Sure Put Things Into Perspective

Manon se fâche!I brought up my daughter to learn about spiritual values from my example, not from reading the Bible or any other spiritual material. I believe that actions speak louder than words, so I tried to use our life together to help her understand some spiritual values like forgiveness, mercy, persistence, connection, tolerance, love, etc. Well, I must have done too good a job. She is now required to read the Bible for an Advanced Placement course in high school English and list allusions in other major works that come from the Bible. I have never required her to read the scriptures, not because they’re bad, but because I feel you really can’t teach spirituality through words. They get twisted by our minds that take control of the content and use these words to engage in unspiritual acts on the basis that the Bible said this or that. If you want to teach spirituality to someone, it should be done through your own example, not through words that can be turned into dogma. So, now she’s reading it as a required assignment and here’s her take on Genesis, so far, in her own words:

I already read the story of creation, and I think god seems pretty lonely, and needy. Like a baby. Then he throws a tantrum and wipes the earth clean of everything but two of each. If he really wanted to fix things, he should’ve done something else, instead of just ignoring the problem and destroying almost everything.

Well, she got the action part right anyways! Compassionate action speaks louder than words and that’s really what she is saying, even though it sounds blasphemous. She probably doesn’t get why in the story of Genesis God is supposed to be teaching us, his children, about how to act properly and then goes on to kill everything on the planet. It’ll be interesting to hear what she has to say when she hits the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. 🙂

Is it Nissan’s fault? Right now, I don’t care…

Car troubleThere are so many ways to suffer in this world, but in the United States financial losses seem to be the most popular way to experience loss and sadness. In other countries, which aren’t as materially blessed, they suffer things like loss of food, shelter, loved ones. It makes me wonder why we spend so much time worrying over losses of money when it rarely leads to a loss of our basic necessities. So, I really don’t get why after years of being pretty happy with my situation, the loss of my car’s function and the associated price tag has me down.

If this had been the me of yesteryear writing, I would have squarely put the blame on Nissan. Even though I do feel they shoulder much of the responsibility, the fact is that it will take years for them to ever come forward and make restitution for the millions of people who bought Nissan Altima cars with the 4L engine. Finding someone to blame doesn’t resolve my situation. I have to figure out how to get this done myself, if I want to resolve this as quickly as possible. Yeah, Nissan had a recall, big deal! They aren’t fixing any major issues because it’s obvious their poor engineering will bankrupt the company when word gets out. This car has had a ridiculous amount of recalls and many complaints about how it fails regardless. I do believe we create everything to our benefit, but sometimes we don’t get why we create what we do. This car thing is one of those times…

My Nissan Altima

I bought a 2002 Nissan Altima and it has over 80,000 miles on it by now. Last December, it started to act up, stalling when I cranked the engine. I put in over $800 of fixes trying to figure out what was wrong when I saw the recall notice details. I began to do some investigating and found out that despite their generous offer to replace this part, that it can lead to damage in the engine and they aren’t willing to do anything about that! They did put in the part, but they said they thought I might have a head gasket leak due to the car overheating. That car has never overheated due to driving, however, that part can cause problems with the engine overheating, from what I understand. I never noticed anything on my dashboard and I never had to stop for an overheated car. The furthest I ever took it during that time was 45 minutes out of the city. So, now on top of $800 worth of fixes I had to do, I am facing another $1,200 on top of that for a head gasket repair. But, that’s not the end of this financial disaster.

What’s Really Wrong With the Car?

I don’t think anyone really knows. The most honest technician I got said that he could replace the engine with a refurbished one for $3,000 to $5000 and at least he could guarantee that work. No one is willing to guarantee that fixing a head gasket leak will fix the car. And, what exactly is wrong with it? The SERVICE ENGINE SOON light is on. That little nitpicky light has cost me more money than any single innovation of man. The car runs and it does stall on occasion, but not enough for me to warrant dumping thousands of dollars on this car to turn off a bloody light. I only drive it around town, otherwise, I work from home. However, the car is due for inspection and no doubt it will fail with that light on. But, no one seems to know how to fix the car, so that the light stays off, and I still owe money on it. And, in a way, this puts me in the same situation as millions of other Nissan owners right now who are trying to figure out what to do with these lemon cars.

So, when the Dalai Lama says to take our moments of suffering and try to make that help us become more compassionate for others, I think I have millions of people I can connect with and empathize with – all Nissan Altima customers. It may make me feel better that I am not suffering alone, and adds meaning to my worthless loss, but it doesn’t resolve my basic problem – how to get this car to be in working condition. Right now, I am very limited as to how far I can go out of my way, since the car may break down any minute (according to others). I was told not to drive it on the highway either. It’s one thing to accept a loss another thing to have to replace it as soon as possible.

My Options

I’ve looked at this a million ways and I’m not sure there’s a tried and true solution here. I don’t use the car for getting to work, since I work from home. So, I’ve mulled it over and here are a few things I could do. I haven’t decided yet. Maybe someone reading here has another suggestion.

  • Take the car in and get the radiator flushed and use Bar’s Block Sealer and hope it takes and it really is a head gasket leak. Cost? Maybe a couple hundred dollars plus $10 or so for the Bar’s block sealer.
  • Don’t do anything. Leave it as is, take it in to get it inspected and let it fail. Appeal to the city to waive the inspection due to the cost of the repairs. Cost: Some initiative and luck.
  • Stop paying my car payments and let it get repossessed. It’s not a good car anyways, why keep paying on it? I don’t like this option because I feel I’m screwing my bank. It’s bad enough I’m getting screwed. Cost: My credit rating.
  • Replace the entire engine and take several thousands of dollars loss on this car. No guarantee something else won’t make it kick the bucket early too. Cost: $3,000 to $5,000 dollars that I don’t have.
  • Call my lawyer and have them sue Nissan. Cost: Too much time, hassle, and money? No guarantee the car will be fixed during that time. Still won’t solve car issue in time.
  • Manifest a new, free, car and keep paying off the old one so no one gets screwed further. This is a biggie for me, I won’t deny it. But, it’s the solution I favor. Whether I can actually do it soon, that’s a totally different question. I have looked at some advertising agencies that offer free cars, but don’t know if I qualify or which are legit. Cost: Faith and trust in the universe.

Have I missed any other options?

*Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons license by Jan Tik