Living Beyond Our Skin | The BridgeMaker

Living Beyond Your Skin

By on Nov 25, 2016

The service we render others is the rent we pay for our room on earth. – Wilfred Grenfell

My next door neighbor really pissed me off last week.

Thursday is trash collection day. The trucks come early so the garbage cans and recycling bins are placed on the curbs the night before. But last Wednesday night the neighborhood had a hard time containing the trash before the trucks could arrive.The low pressure system that was parked in the upper Midwest brought strong winds to Kansas.

By Thursday morning debris littered the lawns. Before leaving for work, I gathered my toppled trash cans and stood them upright. I collected the get-away items and placed them either in the trash can or recycling bin. Surveying the moon-lit yard, I was satisfied I had found what needed to be picked up before leaving.

An unexpected gift

When I arrived home later that evening, I had a package waiting for me. It was carefully wrapped and put in the center of the front stoop. I noticed the wrapper right away. It was the familiar blue and white lettering of my drycleaner.

At first glance, I thought it was a lost shirt being returned. As I got closer, I noticed there were several things wrapped inside. An early Holiday gift for my business, I thought.

It wasn’t the type of gift I was expecting.

The package contained trash and recyclable items that got free the night before. A bacon box, some unopened junk mail and an empty bag of pretzels were placed in the used plastic garment bag. After seeing what was inside, my curiosity quickly turned to anger.

My neighbor had done this before. And he just did it again.

An unfortunate circumstance

Nature selected my part of the world last Wednesday. I’m sure nobody in the neighborhood asked for the 60+ mile-per-hour wind gusts. It just happened like most circumstances of nature. Powerless to stop the wind, my neighbors and I did our best to mitigate the damage afterward – except for one.

Rather than seeing the trash as an unfortunate side effect from the night before, my neighbor might have seen the situation as an intrusion or perhaps an inconvenience.

The time and energy it took him to gather the wind-blown items from his yard and then wrap them took more time than just disposing of the garbage. Last Thursday he made the choice to limit his world to a population of one.

A world of many, beautiful people

The human condition requires us to live beyond our skin. We are called to help, serve and protect all who walk with us. There are no exceptions or opt-outs. We either choose to help, or we don’t.

When we see someone struggle, we are called to lend a hand. When we see a friend in need, we are called to give what we can. When a loved one is down, we are called to help them back up.


Because the world isn’t about me all the time. It’s about us, too.

There’s a difference between being duped and being mindful. Trust your common sense. When there is a need to help, reach beyond your own skin and touch the life of another. When you do, you are both helped and the human condition is improved a little more.

Calmer winds

The winds are calmer now and my anger has mellowed since last week. The unexpected gift reminded me that sometimes the best way we can live beyond our skin is by showing a little forgiveness and some compassion – even when it is inconvenient.

Are you living beyond your skin?
How are you changing the world, a little at a time? Please share in Comments below. Reading this by email? Please visit the blog to share – just click here.

The BridgeMaker Founder Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender. Join the community to connect, share and inspire: Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

  • Remaining generous of spirit with small things has big advantages- for one, there is no losing sleep over small perceived indiscretions. Generosity of spirit also requires us seeing the best in others, having empathy for others, something that expands our ability to love. It’s hard when someone’s walls go up and a trash package arrives at out doorstep. (gah) But I imagine that person to be small thinking and defensive – and at some level, scared. Reacting with love against fear can lead to amazing results. Great post.

  • That idea did cross my mind Travelingsuep. I have the same hope you do, that one day he will embrace the world around him instead of push it away.

  • From your neighbor’s point of view, it was too easy to think you/the world did this to him deliberately and react with anger. I think all of us live in this world of 1 at times, with a huge chip on our shoulder. I confess I would have been tempted to throw his “gift” back into his yard, unwrapped. I hope your neighbor remembers he is not alone soon.

  • To be honest, Clearly Composed, I wasn’t in a very giving mood when I discovered my “gift.” The better gift, my understanding of the situation, didn’t arrive until days later.

    So true Dia, what we pay attention to, grows.

    You too Suzie on the honooponopono. I gotta get me some of that stuff!

  • Wow, I was thinking how would I have reacted, thanks Tess for reminding me to use honooponopono very powerful.

    I now many years ago I would have been angry, and wanted revenge, now I would wonder why:)

    Thanks for sharing