Paul carried the weight of the world quite easily, it seemed.
He was (and still is) an extremely good accountant. He can spot a mis-posting at 50 paces, and solve business problems that others just can’t. This is lucky for the rest of us, as there are so many errors and so many stupid and incompetent people around, that we desperately need people like Paul.
Paul would never call you incompetent or stupid to your face. He’d just smile a little, get in there, and fix the problem. He might complain about you to his mates and wonder aloud why there are so many stupid and incompetent people around. And, in his quiet moments – which were few as he was so busy fixing the problems of a stupid world – he allowed himself to feel the burden of always being the one who has to fix everything. Why can’t others get off their butt, and see the problems? Why is it always him? Questions like that.
Paul strides through life with such confidence and competence, none of us would know what a burden we are to him. In fact, he’s just the sort of chap we want to be; breezing through life with an answer for everyone and everything.
Can’t fix all the cracks
There came a day, though, that Paul’s burdens became too much, and his coping face cracked. What he revealed, as he let out his frustrations, was that he was the eldest in a poor family of four children. His father’s drinking and frequent bouts of unemployment meant that Paul, from age five, had to work for cents to keep the family afloat. Also, he had to help his mother with his siblings and household chores while still having to go to school.
Having to fix everyone’s problems from that early age, with no father to fall back on, Paul became the master of the universe, learning it was he who had to do all the work and fix everything. Never learning to ask others for help; there was no help for a five-year-old. That belief stayed with him for 30 years… until his face broke.
Through the tears of frustration and loss and anger and every other emotion, Paul got to see another possibility. When this 35-year-old man stopped living in his five-year-old world, he realised he could drop the burden of the world where it belonged, in that shabby house of his upbringing. The tears of his pain and anger seemed to cleanse his sight. He soon noticed some very competent and clever people coming into his life – people who could fix things. In fact, some of these clever people had always been there – he just hadn’t noticed their competence before.
It was strange to Paul that when he changed his mind about people, they changed.
Honouring people made them honourable
Of course, he still slips up and fixes things that don’t need to be fixed. Most of the time, though, he enjoys the freedom of seeing others as capable and competent. And his face is now permanently cracked… in a smile.
Photo: Jahir Martinez | Unsplash.
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