I think it’s important to respect all my neighbors so I frequently utilize a slogan I learned in my 12 Step recovery life, that being to “live and let live”. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case in reverse.
Essentially, to “live and let live” means to accept people for who they are, where they’re at in life, and to tolerate their behaviors. In other words, it simply means to let each and everyone be themselves, even when there may be things that others are doing that trigger you immensely.
Of course, it’s always my hope when applying the “live and let live” principle that it will extend in reverse, where people like my neighbors will accept me for me and let me live my life without judging me or my day-to-day actions. While for the most part that’s been the case since moving into my neighborhood, I recently experienced a situation when it most definitely wasn’t.
Before I go more into that, let me first say that most who know me know that I spend an incredible amount of time keeping my yard and gardens looking neat and orderly. It’s definitely an obsession for me at times, especially during my most unfavorite time of the year when the half a dozen or so 50-year-old maple trees surrounding my home begin dropping countless helicopters to the ground, cluttering up my gutters, my gardens, my ponds, and my grass, all doing their best to make thousands of new trees wherever they land and creating blockages where they can’t. While I’m sure many probably don’t care about cleaning them up as much as I do, I opt to spend a good bit of time for those few weeks each year clearing them out until they’re gone for good for another year. How that gets accomplished is through the use of several shop vacuums, a leaf vacuum and a blower. Sometimes, when the crop of helicopters comes down in such high droves it takes an entire day to clean them all up. While it’s not my favorite task, it does occupy my time and keeps me away from a number of unhealthy things and thoughts. Frankly, I consider it to be a healthy outlet for my recovery life from addiction. And if you knew me for who I used to be when I intensely engaged in a number of addictions, you would definitely agree that an obsession over my yard clean-up is far better than what I used to spend my time doing.
That being said, after one of those particularly high-wind days that brought down tons of those annoying little wonders recently, I was outside with a sponsee who I hired to help me clean up the mess when one of my neighbors began to complain about the noise my shop vacuums were making. First the wife expressed how much it was driving her husband crazy, then he expressed it multiple times as well later that day and several subsequent days after that too. I felt guilty about it, but shouldn’t have, because I had done the work during the 9am to 5pm time frame. But what made me more upset was the fact that they do something regularly that drives me crazy too, except I accept it and regularly apply the “live and let live” principle when it comes to it.
What I’m referring to is their use recreational marijuana. Throughout the day on most days, I must endure the smell of pot all around me. It tempts me, specifically on those high pain-filled days when I just want to take a hit and lessen it somehow. Thankfully, I never have, although it was offered to me in years past before any of them knew I was in recovery from addiction. But, even now with all my neighbors knowing how much of an alcoholic and addict I once was, they continue to enjoy their use of weed in open air on most days. Yet, I have always applied that principle I learned in recovery and done my best to “live and let live”, never once complaining or showing any discontent about their use of marijuana.
So, when my neighbor began complaining about the clean-up noise I created for the majority of an entire day, I found myself feeling aggravated at how they weren’t applying the same principle. Unfortunately, not everyone understands this principle and ends up judging others as a result, hoping it will somehow remove the annoying stimuli and make their life better. From personal experience though, it never does, as something always seems to follow it that’s just as annoying.
Nevertheless, while my neighbors may not and never understand, or ever fully apply, the principle of “live and let life”, I will continue to practice it with them because at least it helps me to accept them just as they are, to love them no matter what they do, as that is the very root of what I feel Christ would do himself. And hopefully one day, they may see that my yard and garden obsession that annoys them immensely at times is really no different than how I feel about their pot obsession, as once they do, maybe then, they too will learn to fully “live and let live”.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson