Sunday, 9 October 2011

doing it for ourselves

I was sitting in the lounge today, waiting for my lunch to cook, when I heard a crash in the courtyard outside the window. The courtyard is sunken, about 6 or 7 steps down from the driveway, covered, with a wall around one corner that has vine and jasmine crawling over it. It seems that a koala may have been climbing on the wall and slipped down the vine into the courtyard. And then he (why is my default assumption that this koala was a boy?) had to find his way out.
The photos can speak for themselves with what he tried. It was very hard to watch, though, and I felt a little bad taking the photos (I stepped away from the windows occasionally out of respect for the koala needing to find his way without an audience). But this was one of those instances when I really couldn't help - the obvious language barriers would make my visitor feel a little threatened, and koalas are not cuddly teddy bears with those frightening claws ...

As I've been thinking about the koala's efforts to escape I've been thinking about how there are times when we have to sit back and watch others try to find their way through the challenges they face, and as much as we would like to jump in and help, show the way, or even do it for them, it would be more harmful to try. So we sit back, sit on our hands if we have to, watch and hope from the sidelines - little koala, that's not the way out, why don't you use the steps?? - with gasps as his claws cling onto the rafters and the branch wavers.

There are times when we do step in - we came close, my koala friend and I, as the vine looked like it could
tangle him up dangerously - but what a discipline it is to recognise that we are not the only ones who possess the ability to find a way through a particular circumstance; that our right way may not be the only right way, may not be the right way for another. How hard it is to watch another make mistakes, risk harming themselves, but knowing that if we intervened we may cause even more harm to them and us.
I hope my keeping my distance was enough of a gift to the koala to help him find his way on his own. On reflection, my visitor has given
me a gift, too, a reminder for the next time I am tempted to 'help' someone by showing them the way through a challenge they are facing. Perhaps I will remember the koala, and will keep my distance, step away from the window and let another make mistakes and take some risks without an audience (staying close enough to be on hand for a fall or tangled vine if needed).