For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn? – Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice
I first read that sentence in a daily email from The American Scholar. Then this sentence - source unknown -“what other people think of you is none of your business, it’s their business,” has been doing the rounds of what I call the Personal Betterment blogs. It all seems to boil down to it being a good thing that we can’t read each other’s minds. I’ll say!
I’ve a Philistine neighbor who also prides himself on saving a buck. (I call him cheap.) I’ve another one who is usually found neatening up his property and who washes his cars at the drop of a hat, parading out there topless as he suds and rinses. (I call him anal.) I’ve one who, in this community with leash laws and scooping rules, regularly lets his dog out to do his business wherever it wants to. (I call this guy lazy.) (I think I’d call him thoughtless too.) They are all quite nice neighbors who would do anything for any one of us should the need arise. Somehow though, the fat in the milk of human kindness in me has been watered down to fat-free level.
After living more or less in the woods for over twenty years I am fascinated by neighbors. I am not just fascinated with them as neighbors, but also as couples and how they relate to each other. Sounds like I’ve had my head in the sand for years, but really, in my later inquisitive years, with the exception of family and close friends, I’ve seen little of how most of the rest of the nation’s couples go about daily life. It is fascinating. Who cooks, who doesn’t and eats most of their meals out, what gals have cleaning ladies, what guys call in a handy man just to change a light bulb, who goes to bed very early, who are night owls. I don’t sit at the window and watch the neighborhood happenings (really, over the years, I’ve missed most of the important happenings, like when the police came to the court to make an arrest!) but I’ve absorbed information over the last seven years or so. Very interesting. I’m sure Frank and I are very interesting to all of them too.
Love thy neighbor. Do I love them? No, but I’ll be there in a flash if they call.