So I have these neighbors. Actually, I had these neighbors. They recently moved out from the apartment next to mine. Every Wednesday we have to put our trash bins out by the curb. I would do so that afternoon with mine and, then, bring it back under the staircase that leads up to my apartment. My neighbors, however, would usually just leave theirs in the same place all week long, which was often in the way. I came to inwardly revile them for this heinous act. My reaction may sound exaggerated, but in reality what my neighbors were doing felt that significant because, small as it may be, it would be enough to set off my temper should I have already been having, say, a stressful day because of schoolwork.
Welcome to the suffering of the suburbs.
This is how the human mind works: Usually it will criticize other individuals or believe it is criticizing other individuals when, in reality, it is only condemning itself. Case in point: I would often stew and mull over how ridiculous it was that they would not move their trash receptacle—that has wheels no less!—back where it belongs. I would build up a case against them, culling together evidence to support my claims for how preposterous my neighbors were acting. The culminating nail in the coffin that would have shut down any opportunity for them to justify themselves was, “How hard is it to move a trash can???” (My mind often debates itself. I’ll occupy two sides in my own head—one is my genuine viewpoint and the other is the devil’s advocate—and have conversations. It means I rarely feel lonely while living alone. I also don’t do this because I live alone, either.) But upon my question that I felt had put my neighbors, whom aren’t even aware I’m frustrated with them, in a corner to where they could only weep and apologize over their wrongdoing, the following debate began in my head.
“Yes, how hard is it to move a trash can?”
“No. How hard is it for you to move a trash can?”
“Hold on now—”
“You could move that trash can for them.”
“Yeah, but that’d be akin to treating them like charity.”
“No, it’s not. That’s an excuse, and you know it.”
“Yeah, but they might come to expect it. It might give them even more reason to not move their trash can. It might only encourage their laziness.”
“Why are you thinking like a Republican?”
“Any other excuses?”
“Whatever. Yes, I do have another. They might come to be dependent on me.”
“They won’t know it’s you.”
“They shouldn’t. This shouldn’t be done as a self-aggrandizing move.”
“But they still might become dependent on it.”
“Is it ever bad for people to be dependent on the goodness of others?”
“But it’d be like they’re taking advantage of me.”
“People are going to do that, you know. You control only your actions. Don’t worry about what they’ll do.”
[pause of internal processing, reasoning, and hesitation]
I find it odd how the very things I wish other people would do are often within my grasp of capability to perform myself. This means I am the lazy one. Which then makes me wonder how many people are doing good, selfless, sacrificial things for me that I’m completely oblivious to because I’m so busy nitpicking everyone else. It’s quite the vicious cyclical lifestyle.