I wrote this after listening to someone give a lengthy explanation why they had so many problems and why it was all someone else’s fault. Here is my dialogue with an Imaginary Person (IP) on this complicated problem.
Me: I see you are in pain and I see why. You are sitting in a pot on a stove. The heat looks unbearable.
IP: Oh, you have no idea. I am in such agony and what is even worse, there is nothing I can do about it. It’s hopeless.
Me: But why can’t you stand up and step out of the pot?
IP: That’s absurd. Why would I do that? What’s to say there isn’t something worse outside the safe confines of this pot? Besides, someone put me in it and so it is someone else’s job to get me out. Can’t you see what is most obvious — that if I were to just step out of the pot myself my case would collapse?
Me: Your case?
IP: Of course, silly. It’s the evidence I need to prove what a louse the other one is for putting me in the pot. If I were to just stand up and step out I would lose the greatest meaning and purpose of my life — to show what a louse the other one is for putting me in this miserable pot.
Me: I guess there is nothing I can do to help you then. [I turn and start to walk away].
IP: That isn’t true. If you were a good person, you would know this and you would know what to do.
Me: [Pausing and looking back]. I would?
IP: Of course, silly.
Me: Then I guess I’m not a good person?
IP: Evidently not, because, if you were a good person, you would care enough to stay here with me in my pain and listen to my suffering. You might even get in the pot with me.
Me: I don’t understand.
IP: Of course you don’t, because it isn’t about understanding. You’re just cold and heartless, that’s all there is to it. Here I am on a stove in a pot of boiling water and all you can think to do is to suggest I step out of the pot. Obviously, you have never been in a pot. You have lived a sheltered life.
Me: No, actually, my life has had many pots of hot water. I just don’t sit in them. I guess I’m not into suffering.
IP: That’s easy for you to say because you are not suffering now.
Me: True, I say. That’s because I got out of the pot.
IP: So you are bragging. You think you are better than me.
Me: No, I’m not bragging because I don’t think it’s that big a deal. It isn’t some heroic act. It’s simply just doing the next right thing. By just doing the next right thing over and over, eventually people find themselves far from boiling pots of hot water. Pretty simple actually.
IP: Right. Too simple. Life is more complicated than your simple perspective. Obviously, you are not the one I am waiting for. It looks like I will just have to sit and suffer while I wait for better answers I can agree with and before I can risk stepping out of my pot into God knows what…
And that’s when we parted ways.