What to do When You Can do Nothing

Ripe citrus groveMy heart broke a bit recently when the son of the owner of my apartment building had the man who mows the lawn, badly, cut back the beautiful orange trees and a butterfly bush.  It may seem strange for me to be upset over the trees but the other tenants and I took pride in them. We even paid a professional to trim the trees to keep them beautiful and healthy. We value those beautiful trees.  We care for them, tend them, and nourish them.  The oranges they produce are some of the most delicious we’ve ever eaten.

Since the son of the 97 year old owner who never comes around is on site due to a down stairs neighbor’s death and a vacant apartment, he looked around for things to do.  He was angry with the man who mows the lawn because he does not do anything but mow and blow once a week.  So he wanted him to do something. Aha, I’ll have him trim the trees he thought. The problem is the trees were perfect since they were just neatly trimmed less than three months before.

We’ve been telling the landlord for years the man who mows the lawn is horrible but there is some sort of blind loyalty to him. Now the orange trees, the pride of the entire block, have been hacked by a hack who knows nothing about the proper trimming of trees.

Frustrated, discouraged, angry, abused, and discounted.  These are some of the ways the other tenants and I feel. Regardless how upset we are, no matter how we clearly see what needless damage has been done, in the end there is nothing, absolutely not one thing we can do about it.

How many similar situations do you encounter in life when you are completely powerless to do anything to positively effect change? How many times have you cared about what is right and best only to have someone negatively impact a situation because they did not have the same sharp ethical and moral vision and caring?  How many times have you encountered a frustrating situation when the answer is clear to you yet evades those who hold the power?

These type situations happen all the time. We are surrounded by people who operate at different levels of emotional awareness and responsibility. If we all led with our heart these type frustrating and needless situations would not occur. But we don’t all lead with our heart, to feel what it is like to be on the receiving end of hurtful, thoughtless, and irrational behavior.

So what do you and I do when we can do nothing? Surrender.  Yes, we abandon the idea people who behave irrationally should know better. In situations where we can do nothing, we surrender the hope we can reason with unreasonable people.  It’s not possible.  Our power is to surrender to the truth we cannot be heard by those who are not interested in listening. So we choose to let go of what we know to be right and best. We choose to surrender to the fact other people need hard lessons sometimes too in order to wake up their compassionate and responsible heart.

I know surrender seems like giving up. I know it feels like justice must be served because you and I can see the big picture with the eyes of our heart. But instead of seeing surrender as giving up, view conceding to what we cannot positively influence as bringing a higher level of awareness to the situation than what created it.  We are choosing our battles wisely rather than allowing ourselves to ego-box with those who do not care to see anything other than their point of view.