Would Have

“We all know one of these. She’s had everything done for her all her life. She wants you to do something for her, too. And she wants me to do something for her. No.” I wanted to say this when my teacher asked me to walk with a neighbor to meditation class each week, and walk her home, because she was afraid of the dark. “And that is the only way she will come,” she added. “And I even gave her the classes for free.”

But I just made up an excuse about how I was already in a hurry to get to class after work and how I didn’t have the time. It was based in some truth, so I could believe it at least somewhat. Human interaction is full of should-haves and would-haves and could-haves. I should have said, “No, I enjoy my quiet time walking to class in the dark by myself, just thinking about what I learned and felt, and processing it all.” And I would have said, “No, give me a break, she has a husband and three cars, he can drive her the two blocks to class and pick her up an hour later,” but I didn’t want to introduce pessimistic attitude into the space of our communication. And I could have said, “No, you have to be kidding, I pay for classes each month and have to give up the solitude of a quiet walk the two blocks back and forth to a woman who has more than I do, who is retired at an age younger than I am, and who considers the classes worthless and conned you into devaluing yourself?” To which I probably would have received something of a push-back, “She doesn’t consider me worthless!” But I was privy to a pattern, and I would-have revealed it.

I had offered, too. A different service. A few months prior. After her badgering. And as soon as I did, a light went off in her eyes and a twitch of a smile came over her face and I knew she would never show up for those free lessons. She did not want the lessons. She wanted simply to hear me devalue my services to zero. She had won the ultimate prize in negotiations. That was all it was.

And then I waited one-hundred days to tell the story. I should have told it sooner. I would have, but I made up excuses. I could have. Nothing held me from doing so but myself. I should have ignored the excuses. I would have, but I didn’t want to cause friction. I could have just caused the friction. I should have not worried about causing friction. I would have, but I didn’t want to… I could have, because…

Chris Plante

October 24, 2018

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