Wednesday, February 3, 2010
INTO THE TRENCHES
'MANNY' A UNITED STATES ARMY HERO AND GRACIE
You and you alone are responsible for the choreography for the dance of your life.
This premise returns to me over and over again. But it is a bitter pill to swallow when there are those who want more than anything to see you fail. You find yourself maligned and hated by a handful of invidious people.
I struggle to understand why there are those that make a conscious attempt to destroy and slander, when they see you have a passion to do good for the right reasons, the right way. Most often it is jealousy.
There are those that have said I am doing everything I do to promote my book, my bed and breakfasts, myself and worse. It has become their conviction and mission to spread the word that I am doing this to “exploit our warriors,” or to 'stroke' my ego. These cruel arrows in my back are not strangers to me. But these statements are preposterous and truly sadden me.
Our soldiers are fighting so that these people have the right to say what they want. But my faith and resolve remains intact. The naysayers will not win. My direction will not change. I believe that true and intense character is found in doing what is right. My character is leading me to my destiny.
A friend once told me that I need to 'get in the trenches,' do the work, and stop wasting time on those who see no way but their way. Negativity weights us down and then anger turns inward. For whatever reason, these people are prisoners to their own pain. I have nothing to do with it or with them. So into the trenches I go.
It doesn’t take anything but walking Gracie, my little blind therapy dog, into the trenches at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Institute of San Antonio, to patients with open arms and smiles, to know why I am doing what I do. I do not need to defend myself, nor do I need monuments built for what I do. Monuments in the human heart are often the most important. It is not about me, not about my dog, but solely about the patient. Others perhaps should analyze their motivations.
It doesn’t matter what a handful of defensive people say, think, or feel. Ironically, I find I am truly grateful to them, for they serve to remind me why I do what I do. Sure there is a little disappointment. There always is where people are involved. But this disappointment is only temporary. What lives on is the difference we make in people’s lives.
Emotional landmines are encountered in life, but we must not be sabotaged or incapacitated by them. I remember that there are other things exceedingly more important, and there are people that need nothing more than a little French hound dog to brighten a moment in time.
Our good deeds hold energy. The intention behind what we do is deep within our being. So yes, I go into the trenches to do the job, choreograph the dance. And my monument will be built in my heart for no one but me to see. After all isn’t being kind much more important that being important?
Helen, one of Gracie’s patients, helped in the construction of my monument when she said, “You’ll never know the difference you and Gracie make in lives.” As she was saying this I saw a gentleman behind her with silver white hair and a huge smile that appeared to brighten the entire room. He was unable to speak, but quite simply gave Gracie and me a thumbs up.
He had no words, but the intention behind his smile and gesture were words that held great energy and emotion. He told me all he needed to, with a smile and a thumb. Martin Luther said, “Sometimes the fewer the words, the better the prayer.”
To me there isn’t anything better than knowing Gracie and I are making a difference in the lives of people we don’t know. Someone we may never see again, someone who has a family, a life outside of the hospital that we will never know about, and facing a medical problem that has changed their lives forever. Often with these same people I find my heart skips a beat. The naysayers quite simply don’t matter.
I remember that dogs teach us much more about love and mutual trust that most people, and that we must all ask ourselves each day what we have done to make the world a better place. Did we make someone smile, and as Leo Buscaglia says, “Did we help someone feel more secure. It’s the simple things which have the greatest effect. We must never underestimate the strength of a smile or act of kindness.”
And then I realize that my friend was right, it truly is much more beautiful down in the trenches.
“Be a good human being, a warm-hearted affectionate person. Having a sense of caring, a feeling of compassion will bring happiness or peace of mind to oneself and automatically create a positive atmosphere.”
Dalai Lama, Tibetan Spiritual Leader