Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Other Side of the Fence

I came home the other afternoon and heard the sounds of laughter and conversation. The provocative tendrils of smoke from a nearby grill drifted past my nose. I could then see festive balloons and decorations just over the top of my back fence. It sounded like a major bash was in full swing, my ears capturing bits and fragments of children's squeals and games, and relaxed conversations of old friends. Although I could stand in my back yard and feel like I was right in the midst of this gathering, I was not a part of it. Somehow I felt left out and a bit empty as I headed back inside to make something of my evening. Ahh, the other side of the fence.

As the sun settled below the horizon, the goings-on next door continued. After a few shrieks of boisterous laughter, I looked outside and saw the flames licking off the top of their tiki torches. I was surprised to find that my personal emptiness had turned dark. I grumbled to myself at their loudness and spectacle. I was jealous, and my jealousy was petty and judgmental. The other side of the fence.

As I admonished myself and tried to turn my attention to something more positive, it occurred to me that my jealousy of others indeed usually does turn into judgment. An example is thinking negatively about a couple walking down the street hand-in-hand. My jealousy of the relationship of strangers stirs very negative, hateful thoughts within me. Wishing I was somehow on the other side of that street.

The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be. -Robert Fulghum