Intention vs. Action

Oh boy, I wanted to write yesterday but I was in such a typhoon of confusion I didn’t allow myself to touch the keyboard. I was drifting like a feather, comfortably riding the jet stream before the breeze launched me in the air, spun me around in circles, and spat me back to earth. Why? Who knows really. Instead of writing I took a lesson away from my morning meditation and just thought fuck it, I’m going to pretend like I don’t feel anything and just keep on going about my day (which is not exactly what my morning meditation teaches me, but it was the way I chose to interpret it).

The typhoon kicked off after I volunteered with Cause We Care, coming out of the hour and a half of stuffing Christmas hampers feeling a lot worse about my contributions to humanity than I had previously. There I was sitting in a warehouse alongside another fifty white, well-to-do women wearing multiple layers, drinking Starbucks donated coffee, writing cards with hearts on them and tying bows onto bags. Don’t get me wrong, what this organisation does for underprivileged kids and single mothers is incredible, but if I walked away dusting off my hands feeling as though I’d done my bit for society, then I would have been terribly mistaken.

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On my way to the warehouse I passed a crowded corner where it looked like they were giving away food to people living on the street. “Maybe I should be doing something like that,” I thought to myself. But deep down do you know what I was really thinking? “I don’t like being in this neighbourhood and I’d rather not be here at all.” Wow, does that make me a horrible person? Maybe. Or perhaps just the honest truth behind that notion was that it made me uncomfortable. I felt out of my comfort zone, which is why I probably instinctively chose to volunteer for Cause We Care, which looked safe and inviting and run by modern, make-up wearing mothers who would never stand me on a street corner in the rain to hand out food to the sorts of people in Vancouver’s downtown Eastside that frankly terrify me.

It was a tough realisation to come to terms with. We can fool ourselves into thinking we have the greatest of intentions when that’s really all they are, intentions. So the one thing I’m going to take away from yesterday and feel good about is the fact I took one small step in the right direction, and now know just how much further there is to walk.

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16 thoughts on “Intention vs. Action”

  1. Something is always better than mothing. Hang in there. My two son’s just finish through hiking the PCT together. Thanks for your inspiration. SeePuckHike.wordpress.com

    1. Hey thanks Pete!! I just caught up on some of your son’s posts. Love the one about the book Wild, very relevant and well thought out opinions. I’m looking forward to reading more! And great effort for completing the hike SoBo!!

  2. Everyday I see homeless men and women in our neighborhood which is a big change since we bought our home 31 years ago. Some are drug addicts, some are not sane or able to cope and some are just down on their luck. I don’t know the answer to this. We have squatters and cons and teens who are high on glue sniffing. So I wonder what will help. Jesus said the poor will be always with us. There are all kinds of poor so there is all kinds of answers. You have started to go out of your comfort zone so one step at a time and be careful to learn how to help. I have made some mistakes and sometimes I have helped a little. It takes wisdom. Merry Christmas

    1. Thank you for your insights Linda. Drug addictions and mental health issues add such a complex layer to the situations of so many people that find themselves on the streets these days. As you said each scenario requires a different response, so it’s impossible to find a blanket answer that will help everyone. Maintaining open-mindedness and being willing to help is a good start. Merry Christmas to you too!

  3. So very true! We do what what we feel comfortable doing. But sometimes it does us good to get out of our comfort zone. Just like your hike, we don’t expand ourselves with out pushing our boundaries.

    1. Wolfman! Just seeing your name pop up brought a huge smile to my face! Sometimes I think it’s easier to take a giant leap than a smaller step outside our norm. Drastic changes mean we likely have no idea what’s around the corner, when smaller ones mean we have to accept the realities or challenges we believe to be there before we can even move in that direction. Hope you’ve had a wonderful 2015 and I look forward to hearing from you again soon! Muk

      1. Some Day I will get up there and buy you dinner! Always reading your post, just not always commenting. I think your doing great and 2015 was good, I hope we both have a GREAT 2016! Happy Holidays! 🙂

      2. That would be a treat indeed!! Thank you Wolfman! I think no matter were I am in this world a part of me still lives on the trail, but I’m as close to the outdoors as a person who lives inside a house and works inside a concrete store can possibly be, so I’ve had a phenomenal year. 2016 is gonna be great for both of us I’m sure! 🙂

  4. It’s really a fact that sometimes our intentions come back and give us a swift kick….that what we really were doing wasn’t really the true reason….When I catch myself thinking my reason are very clear, when, in fact, my deep down reasons were really the culprit….whew….sopr I get it….but, I am glad you had the experience…and the insights….can really be depressing at times…for me, it is often that way….

    You’re a searcher and for that I am glad…I wonder if that’s why you are such a serial nomad…??? ….. smiling….and BTW, a pretty wonderful soul….

    From your old friend in California, Barbie

    1. Thanks Barbie! You’re so right, and on the other hand if we try to analyse our motives too much we end up completely overwhelmed and mystified by the way our complex mind operates. A close friend said to me tonight that I sound stuck or that I’m going around in circles. But I think these experiences and expressions are all part of growing and moving forward, even if I’m still unsure of the precise direction to head in.

  5. You are one honest person! There are no easy answers. I work across the street from a church that serves breakfast to the homeless every morning. There are hundreds of people there! It always amazes me. Our mayor made it illegal to feed the homeless (personally) – so there’s that. A friend of mine at work tried to help a homeless man that was getting beaten up every day by other homeless men. The man told him that if he could just leave town and start someplace new, he could make it. So my friend took him to the bus station and bought him a ticket and some new clothes. The next day, he saw him across the street again – he had cashed the ticket in, was beaten up again and lost his money ….. again.

    The other morning while driving into work, I saw one of our Metro busses drivers get out of the bus – there was a man just laying in the street next to his grocery cart full of all his belongings. He was alive, just passed out.

    I’m not trying to be a Christmas “bummer”. I try to help those that are “aware” of the help. No pat on the back needed – just want them to benefit from the help others give – whatever that might be.

    Like one of your other responders said – something is always better than nothing.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing! One of my closest friends in Vancouver teaches music to underprivileged children in the Vancouver downtown Eastside and after attending their recital last week it made me realise what a difference something like music can make in a young person’s life to help steer them in a positive direction. I think prevention is always better than cure, and programs like the Saint James Music Academy play a big part in that. As you said, every little bit counts.

  6. Dang Girl…
    I know I suggested you take a ride on a rainbow, but I didn’t expect it to twirl you around and spit you out ❗

    I am pleased however, to hear you share your feelings so openly about this experience. We have all found ourselves in similar situations. All though the details vary, we each put ourselves in a places or situations – then let the expectations follow. Simply to discover the UNEXPECTED waiting there for us.

    From what I have seen, you handle yourself well in these circumstances and I am sure the people on the other end of your helping spirit appreciate what you have done so far. Whether you stick with his group, find another or pick a new avenue to travel…your mere presence there will lift the spirits of those people you see everyday.

    You mentioned a friend suggesting you may be “stuck in a circle”. I wonder if instead of discribing it as stuck in a circle….you could see yourself as traveling along a spiral. Every step you take, moving you closer and close to the real center.

    I believe everything we do and see adds to our total life experience. By sharing your hopes and even dissappointments, YOU may be learning from this AND teaching a good lesson to others at the same time. That’s nothing new for you !

    Still, I recognize it and thank you for your big open heart !!

    From deep, dark Alaska,
    ( with a bright smile )
    Your friend Lyndella

    1. Thanks Lyndella, your comment is written like poetry, which is what I should expect coming from a song writer and musician! 🙂 Thank you for your positive perspective and support. I really appreciate it! Keep on smiling and the music flowing!

  7. Just a few weeks ago. I saw a homeless man walking across the street down by the harbor in San Diego. I was on my commute home, stopped at a light, and my mind was wandering/wondering. I fixated on him, as he walked holding an loud argument with himself, when he stopped turned and yelled at me. “What you looking at, stop looking at me”. degenerated from there to death threats from there, but the odd thing was I was not mocking him or whatever he felt. I looked on how little I felt at that moment separated me from him. It was an odd moment of transference. There are many roads in life, and not many of us consciously choose our path…even when we think we do. I wonder if/when that man had choices, and if he made them…perhaps his were wiser than mine. Judging that is for someone far wiser than I…enough of that..just some odd events stick in our conscious more than others, and I’m not sure they can come across to others…I’ve done few things for the poor, but always feel what I’ve done is sort of a sham when I do (similar to your feeling)…giving out food at soup kitchens, etc…but the little I’ve felt good about is time I shared talking person to person, and sharing that they are thinking feeling human beings just like the rest of us. Just stream of consciousness here, no point to make. You just triggered a release of memory/thoughts.

    1. I like your stream of conscious thought Gromit. It brings up so many topics. The way humans can perceive so differently is a big one, and also the spirit of generosity. How much better is buying a gift for someone when you see something they love rather than racing around two days before their birthday for a token gift? My volunteering felt token. I felt 100 times better when I walked past a homeless guy I always used to see downtown years ago and asked if he wanted the two bananas I was holding in my hands. It felt good because it was a reaction and because it was in the moment. Not preconceived or predetermined. If we could all simply put others first and practise a little compassion we’d be a lot better off. It’s an endless trail of discussion I know, but one I enjoy wandering down a lot! Thanks for sharing!

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