Someone who doesn't bat an eyelid when blasted with cussing first thing Monday morning after innocently asking "How was your weekend?"
Someone who follows up by offering to let you go home early to push bearings back into sheep if you can't get hold of the other guy to go do it.
Points to look for in friends:
Can make you laugh when you feel like crying, by pointing out how ridiculous the whole situation is in an amusing way.
Turn up randomly and fix your lawnmower (thank you so much, vernacularity, it works brilliantly now and I finished the lawn last night and went over what I'd done the day before to make it pretty too).
I like lawn mowing. I'm not keen on noisy smelly motorised mowers, because they are noisy and smelly and also require things like petrol and oil and spark plugs and maintenance. I like to just get the mower out of the shed and start pushing. I like the instant gratification of seeing what I've done, and I like that it's all under my own steam.
I also use lawn mowing for stewing. Yesterday was a day that had me stewing, and 2 hours of pushing the mower, while it didn't solve anything in my head, supplied my brain with sufficient endorphins to take the edge off, and also tired me out enough to sleep.
Thinking about it, the situation IS ridiculous. A complete stranger decides to have a go at me about something that is neither her stuff to sort nor mine, and immediately stoops to personal insults to try and get the upper hand.
All I can figure is that she already had a bee in her bonnet about something, and I was a convenient scapegoat. From her perspective, I was some random that doesn't look like a farmer (I acknowledge this), who turned up with a dog and started wandering around without asking anyone. She must be new, because she's not aware of the understood communal use of the yards, and she'd never heard of the pink-haired sheep shearer. Given that I've shorn sheep for pretty much everyone who lives up that road for coming up three years, not knowing this is a sign of not having been around for very long.
Her mistake was to get angry and start berating me straight away, without trying to find out who I was and what had been organised without her knowledge.
So it was a ridiculous situation. My mistake was not realising this straight away and dealing with it differently - I did attempt to point out that issues of where the sheep graze are to be sorted out with the landowner, and that I was happy to do that, but she refused to give me the information I needed to solve it that way. And that's when I realised that it was some kind of power game.
I really don't like power games. Part of the reason I don't like them is the temptation to engage - I don't like being pushed around, and when someone's already insulted me ("If you knew anything about sheep".. come on) and my back's up, the temptation is very hard to resist. And once you start getting into "I've got more authority than you" or "I can yell louder than you" it stops being about finding solutions to problems, and starts being about something completely different.
To me, that's a pointless activity. I really don't care about whether or not I'm higher in the pecking order than someone else, especially when there doesn't need to be a pecking order at all. What I care about is being able to look after the sheep to the best of my ability, and meanwhile keeping good relations with the other people who also use the land. Up until yesterday, I'd managed that.
Now, because the whole thing left me with a bad taste in my mouth and because I am still quite upset about it, it seems obvious that I did engage in a power game with this woman - after all, I ignored her admonitions that I was trespassing, and I took my dog onto the land and went about my business regardless of her protests. It may have been a passive engagement, but it was still engagement. That happened at the point where I stopped trying to reason with her and walked away.
At this point I have danjite sitting on one shoulder and saying "Is this person's opinion important to you?" and Happy sitting on the other going "What's a higher priority, taking care of the sheep or getting along with the neighbours? Right, so get on with it then and stop stewing about other people's crap that you can't change."
Which is all great advice that reckons without my amazing capacity to find ways to blame myself, because I got riled and acted differently from the way I might have if I hadn't allowed my indignation to colour my thinking.
Yes yes, this is Tats doing that "Hey, you can't change other people but you can sure as hell change yourself" thing again.
So - how do you go about changing yourself so that no matter what insults and unreasonableness people throw at you, you can still deal with unpleasant situaions calmly and in a positive, solution-focused way? I tried, I really did. But I failed and it escalated.
I think it's probably a good time for me to start thinking about things I'm grateful for/happy about. Today, it's flowers. List of flowers currently prettying up my garden:
Daffodils, sparaxias, stocks, primulas, polyanthus, mesembryanthemums, antirrhinum (snapdragons), geraniums, swan river daisies, rosemary, snowdrops, sweet william. Freesias and ranunculus on their way. I love the spring explosion.
I also love my Mum and am grateful for her having moved to Wellington so I get to see her regularly. *hugs mum*