Doing the right thing is relative, I realize. Yet, I am curious if there is a basic foundation of character within us that leads us to make more 'right' rather than 'wrong' choices?
Last week I made choices over the wellbeing of other folks, when crisis showed up. I am pretty certain I did right by one and wrong by another. They both felt a mix of bad and good though, so I am still a bit discombobulated over them. The choices not the people. I am in dilemma over this. I did not make space to host a pause time to really check in before I made decisions in regards to these two scenes I acted in. I reacted.
Just before I left the picnic on the patio with friends last Thursday, I made a decision. I needed to go to the Ladies and chose to forgo the line and public bathroom scene. I decided to hold it. I am filled up with pee and count in my head to keep my bladder distracted on my drive home. A few blocks from my destination, a woman tripped on sidewalk and fell face down. Patricia is dazed and confused with her little spaniel, Molly, sitting vigil a few inches away. There is blood. I collect her fragile petite body, keys and Molly. She has a fist full of tissue to mop up the smear of blood on her hand and face. My grandmother, Helen, always had tissue ready, too. For what, I am curious? A fall, allergies, a cry? Such preparedness. P is embarrassed. I fall occasionally with clumsy absentmindedness and I feel shy about it. I get Patricia's discomfort, so I keep quite for a long moment. She is tending to her wounds. She guides me to her locale. She has a precious voice with a touch of south. South as in lived there but not raised there harmony. She shares that she lived in Georgia for two of her decades here on earth. We get to the door and we hug and say good night.
I get home and I race to bathroom, nearly wetting my pants in the hallway. Damn molasses elevator.
If I hadn't needed the pee break would I have tucked Patricia in? Called the hospital? Checked in on her to make certain she didn't have more serious injury? Vested more interest in her story? I felt like such a shitty person when I woke up the next day. I took my pup, Clemens, out for a stroll. My car had evaporated while I counted sheep. It had been towed. Retribution from God? If I had gone to the bathroom earlier in the evening, would I have been more helpful? Basically, Me before You playing out. If we are not tending to self, do we tend to make selfish choices as a result? If we are hungry or tired or lacking love in our lives are we more apt to ignore another's needs, even if they are dire?
Patricia is alright. Lucky for us both. I may not have been able to look myself in the mirror and say, hey that gal did the right thing, if P had been more broken. That may just have broken me and how I feel about me. So technically I did the right thing, right? It doesn't feel just-right, though, to me. Still.
I find that checking in along the way helps. Does this feel right? Almost right? Wrong? It is such a balance though. What do I need right now to make the 'right' choices? Where is the closest bathroom, hug, bag of almonds to tide me over? We have heroes that do not dwell on the status of their bladder and throw themselves in harms way, on trains and planes, the streets and such, to keep us safe. They just decide. I think I would save someone if I needed to. Even full of pee. Maybe I would not, though.
A few days after the Patricia and Molly save, I had another chance to make the 'right' choice. After attending an event in the lush Willamette Valley, a cat named, Diablo (the devil, translated), played suicide mission with my right front tire. Thud. The stupid tire won and Diablo died, his collar flying off on impact. I ran over a squirrel on Old River Road in 2001. My children, who sat in car seats at the time, still remember the end of Squirrel's life, 14 years later. Ending a breathing being's life, even accidentally, feels overwhelming towed-under horrible. I am sorry Diablo. Please forgive me for meeting you at the wrong time on that country road.
I had my picnic blanket in the back of my car, so I wrapped Diablo up. She was a gorgeous supersized white fluffy beauty. I tucked her collar in the wrap and walked her home. I wrote a note to her parents, apologizing. The house was very scary. Meth house, for sure. Or crack or smack. The vibe on the horder-styled front doorstep freaked me out. I felt the horror movie chills down my spine. I bolted after saying a rushed hushed blessing, leaving the rolled up Diablo on a vile doormat, next to a pile of garbage and recycle dumped on the not to code stoop. I wasn't willing to face her caretakers and die this night in the middle of nowhere fields.
Am I am coward? Am I a saint? Not sure. I know for certain, though, I feel human and imperfect with my choices. I vow to try to: self checkin more often, pause even in chaos, use the bathroom when I have the opportunity and keep an extra blanket in my trunk.