Whats Up With That? - Katy Byrne

It’s the people

This week was tough. I woke up feeling worried, with a sense of dread. Why? I wasn’t sure. Maybe it was the upcoming holidays and winter months weighing on me and wondering how I would maneuver through it all. It might have been financial concerns. I had just lost a tenant and was feeling fragile. I saw money flying out the window. I was on edge and scared.

I knew I had to be resourceful and keep plugging away at different duties. After all I believe that footwork and faith are my main tools for life – even though it isn’t always easy. I had to muster the strength to reach out to people.

When I did, I found some disappointment and a lot of encouragement. For instance, I found a man to do a run to the dump for me. He took my metal and steel for nothing and when I watched him working, sweating in the heat, I asked him how he was able to be so helpful. He talked about his values, about how we do things because we care and it comes back to us.

Then there were the rug cleaners. One person never returned my phone calls but then I found a guy that, my God, made my rug happy! The young man worked so hard I was amazed. He went over that carpet for hours. When I asked if he liked his job, he said, “I love to work,” his faced gleaming.  He said he thrived on work and he was miserable and self-destructive without a job.

Then the tree trimmers came… at 6 a.m. They patiently reassured me that pruning would not harm the trees or take away too much shade. While one guy climbed the tree with one foot barely on a limb, his partner stood below, making sure he was safe.

As I stood watching, coffee in hand, hair frizzing from tossing and turning all night, and wondered how these people could be so ambitious at such difficult jobs, like roofers that sweat for days in the hot sun.

It was inspiring, but why? Was it the testosterone and Tarzan-like acrobatics? It was, it came to me, the feeling of a village at work. If everyone cared about their endeavors and had jobs they wanted, think what a world we would have.

It might sound weird to write about rugs and roofs but what I learned this month is that it’s the people that make life worth living. It’s the people in our lives that make the difference between depression and joy.

“But the economy is killing us,” says “New Yorker” magazine, quoting an unemployed boat salesman. “Imagine getting up every day and not having a purpose. You’re not working. Your self-worth goes down the toilet. You don’t interact with people. You stay in your house. You don’t want to answer the phone. It isolates you.”

Hard times call for good people.

The economy isn’t helping. Studies show an increase in extreme poverty in the 65 to 75 age group. If social security payments and social services are cut, millions of senior citizens, working families, disabled veterans and children will suffer. I say we had better pick up our canes and start picketing.

It’s “we the people” who want to engage in life, to feel useful, to give instead of holding our cards tight to our chests out of fear. Let’s swing from the trees like the tree man and holler loud to make sure our tribe, all the good, proud, supportive people, stick together.

Katy Byrne, MFT, is a Sonoma psychotherapist and the author of  “The Courage To Speak Up (Getting Your Hairballs Out).”

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