Confession: I Did Nothing

On my second day of skiing in Aspen, I’m coasting easily down a green slope, practicing the subtle turns that keep my speed down, able to focus on the beauty of the landscape around me. I’m feeling good until I hit a steep connecting trail that is less groomed than the one I was previously on. Maintaining my speed becomes increasingly difficult, maintaining control even more so. 

I’m not alone here. I see ahead on the hill a girl go down hard, her poles flying and one of her skis popping off. She stays down, sitting and looking around her as if she has no idea how she has gotten there. She looks lost and possibly scared.

I think about pulling up next to her, asking how she is, offering to get her pole for her. I consider assisting in getting her back into her skis. I want to help her. Instead, I hesitate. My fear gets the better of me, my thoughts rushing at me, faster and faster, gaining speed as I barrel down this hill.

“What if I try to stop to help her and I fall? What if I get hurt? What if I crash into her while I am trying to help? What if I make the situation worse?

What if I can’t do anything at all?”

Instead, I ski past. I know immediately it is not the right decision. I pause a distance below her, and from this vantage point I realize I have invoked that same mantra that I have used time and time again when the Universe throws me a curve ball that I refuse to hit, or to catch, or to even acknowledge:

Someone else will do it.

Someone else will invite the new person to join our lunch. Someone else will move to another seat on the plane so that the family can sit together. Someone else will shift their yoga mat to the side to accommodate the person who rushed in late. Someone else will help the lost elderly woman find her way home.

Someone else, someone else, someone else.

I look the other way.

I put my head down, pretend I cannot see what is going on as if this will somehow lessen my accountability. Making myself unavailable before I’m even asked for help. Before anyone can call upon me to act.

But I do see you struggling with your three children and your luggage and your strollers and your passports. I do see you trying to put on your skis without dropping your poles and your gloves but they keep falling down into the snow. I do see you cleaning up the hot coffee you spilled all over the table and floor in Starbucks, making three trips back up to the counter for more napkins to be able to mop up that venti coffee.

And yet I look away.

“Not me,” I seem to be saying. “Not my problem,” I intimate. “Not my responsibility,” I rationalize.

I’m wrong, of course. It is me, it is my problem and it IS my responsibility. To be present, to be mindful, to be helpful. To do something.

Because what if, one day, there is no someone else?

I was lucky with regard to my fallen comrade on the slopes. Someone else did risk falling to help her. Someone else did get her back on her feet, back into her skis. Someone else did care enough to stop. She was okay. But it doesn’t really let me off the hook, does it?

 

I want to be the someone.

 

So that is the new mantra that I need to repeat, over and over, until it happens without any hesitation, so that I can’t possibly ski on past: Do Something. That is my refrain: Do Something.

Drop your poles, spill your coffee, ask me to move, fall in my path.

This time, I will not look away. 

 

xx,

Katie

12 thoughts on “Confession: I Did Nothing

  1. This is such a great entry. I have been quite the opposite for so many years. Always helping others and mostly at the expense of myself. I have had to remind myself that someone else will do it. And that is okay. It doesn’t always have to be me. Same situation. Different lens. You are the best. Love the vulnerability you continue to share. Xxxxxoooo

  2. This is great and a good reminder to many. I related to a lot of what you say. I often add, ‘What if they don’t want my help? What if I annoy them? What if they’re mean to me? What if I say something stupid?’ Your piece is a good reminder. There’s always room for kindness, even if it’s scary.

    • You are so right, there is always room for kindness. I don’t think anyone has ever regretted being too kind. I think as long as you can look back up the mountain and not regret your actions, you’re most of the way there.

  3. I most definitely connect with this piece, I think we all do. We all have had moments of doing nothing and we have had moments of being the one who did something. I think there should be a shift in thinking that there may not be somebody else and it is up to us. I love that so much.

    You are awesome. Much love.

  4. As usual I loved this post. I feel the same way often. Usually when I pass a homeless person on the street and don’t help. I don’t make eye contact. I don’t engage. I don’t help. Somebody else will do it right? Thanks for the gentle reminder that that is not always the case:)
    xo

  5. Just wanted to tell you how much I love your blog. It’s a must read for me! You always write about something I can relate to. A couple of times I swore you must have actually been reading my mind and writing down what I was thinking, but hadn’t said out loud. This was another great post. Where I work people often need directions. I find myself avoiding eye contact hoping they’ll ask someone else simply because I usually don’t know the answer. Yesterday I stopped and found a lost person somebody who did know the right directions for them. I had forgotten how good it feels to take time to help a stranger! Anyway, keep up the great writing!

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