** WARNING - like so many others, this post is a rambling sort of post, not really organized, and is just me putting my thoughts out there. It may, or may not, make sense. You have been warned =P **
This topic has come up in my life several times lately.
First, regarding the plans for Jena's upcoming birthday party. When I announced I wanted to do something "big", and that in fact, I planned on doing bigger celebrations for all of our birthdays from here on out (the why behind this is really a separate post that I should do), I was surprised to get a bit of backlash from a few family members.
After all, they said, what if not everyone can come on the date you pick? then they'll feel bad that they missed it.
And what if they can't afford to buy a gift? well, that's why I want it passed along that we want "no gifts". But people feel obligated because it's a birthday, and then if they can't afford it, they'll feel bad.
And so on, and so on.
For me, the response to this type of conversation - one which surrounds a specific person's birthday, or a specific couple's wedding, or whatnot - is easy: it's not about the other people. Not to be rude, but the point of a birthday party is to celebrate the life of the birthday girl (or boy).
Now, this is just my viewpoint, and I know several people (including family members) who have voiced their disappointment that I have this opinion, if the event is celebrating a very specific person / couple / group of people, then it's all about them. Period.
I mean, you don't have to be all rude about it, but Jena's birthday party is about celebrating her, not about an insane (and probably impossible) attempt to accomodate every single family member or friend who might possibly like to attend.
So... that covers my view of that type of scenario.
The second type of scenario had an example played out beautifully over Independence Day weekend.
Saturday night several (all?) of our neighbors set of fireworks - like, the big stuff - for a combined time frame of over four hours. From 9pm until 1:30am it was a near-constant barrage of BOOM! BOOM! crackle, crackle, crackle BOOM!
Now, I know it was a holiday weekend.
And I know we live in a rural area.
But rural does not equal soundproof.
The people next door - only about an acre of land separating our houses - we have full view of each other, set them off for nearly two hours, of course being the last ones to start, at not quite midnight.
And when I say "big stuff", well - come to find out later that at least one person on our road has their pyrotechnics license. So, like. actual professional-level fireworks. BOOM!
If you can't guess where this was going, I was not happy.
At first, I was merely annoyed. But very tolerant. After all, it is a holiday weekend. And my annoyance had more to do with the fact that Jena is afraid of loud noises, and Buddy is gun-shy, than anything else.
But by midnight (3 hours into the "show"), I was ticked. Like really angry.
See, the way cars were driving up & down the road, I began to suspect that this was coordinated. That they were intentionally taking turns, driving to each others' houses to shoot off each stash of fireworks. Not everyone, but definitely a few.
So I may or may not have gone on the back porch to check on the dogs and yelled something in the direction of my neighbors like "It's past midnight already! Knock it off!"
And my mini-tirade may or may not have included some cuss words.
Admittedly not my finest moment.
Later, in venting about this, I have gotten a mixed reaction. Some people agree with me: fireworks are fine, the celebration is understandable, it's a holiday, but shooting them off until 1:30 in the morning is rude and completely uncalled for.
Others have pretty much told me that I need to get over it. It's a freakin' holiday, they have every right to shoot them off all night long if they want to.
So... obviously there are some varying opinions.
I don't think my neighbors, any of them, are so incredibly rude & inconsiderate that they intentionally set off fireworks all. night. long with the intention of bothering someone else. At least, I hope not.
Most likely, it didn't even cross their minds.
They were having fun, with no thought (or consideration) for how their actions affected those around them.
I don't know if they heard me yell. They didn't stop for over another hour that night. But the next two nights? They stopped by 11pm.
Sometimes, getting someone to take us into consideration is as simple as that, as simple as informing them, educating them that what they are doing is upsetting. Because sometimes, people have no idea.
Of course, sometimes people still don't care. They are so focused on themselves, that they are self-centered that they have no concern beyond their own desires.
I suppose, perhaps, that it's about finding balance. Finding that place between standing up for yourself, exercising your own rights and taking others' needs & wants into consideration, even if it means limiting the exercising of your own rights.
Because I think to live in one extreme or the other would be... abusive. If you are so selfish that you are only concerned with what you want, then you are mistreating those around you. But if you become so selfless that you never consider your own needs & wants, then you find yourself crossing over into behavior that reeks of self-contempt.
So many things in our lives are about finding the right balance, aren't they? About finding that place between two stances that fits, that feels right.
Sometimes I think it has more to do with the journey, and that sometimes that place, that balance, changes as we go, as the fulcrum of our developing self slides one way or the other and we adjust our load to discover the new harmony in our life.