In order to avoid mind-clouding pressure from family, peers or neighborhood, concerns about personal economics, work or school, being "caught up" in emotional rhetoric or succumbing to transient fears, prejudices, angers and grudges, in order to bring yourself into a balanced focus, ask yourself the following three questions and, in coming to the answers, be wholly honest with yourself, as if your life depended on it.
Although difficult, at first, the more you do it, the easier it will become.
1 - You are a single parent with no relatives within three hundred miles of you. You have a truly lovely daughter, whom you dearly love, who is thirteen and is anxious to start experiencing life, thus in need of closer-than-usual monitoring. You also have a dog (or cat or other pet), which is having physical difficulties and, though not necessarily life-threatening, is in need of closer-than-usual observation, as well as after-the-act clean-up.
Your job unexpectedly requires you to be gone for one week. You contact two friends, asking each one if they might take one of them, your daughter and pet, in for the week and keep an eye on them. Your friends are [candidate 1] and [candidate 2], both of whom you know only as well as you actually know and feel about them. Both live alone; both work out of their homes and both live in adjacent communities, but are close enough for your daughter to attend school as usual and your pet, if necessary, to go to the same vet.
With which "friend" would you trust the care of your daughter? With your pet? And, while away, which of the two situations would you feel worried about the least? Would you try to get one of the two "friends" to do both? And would it worry you less?
2 - You are an eight-year-old, who is celebrating this eighth birthday with family and friends. Among the gifts you get are two crisp twenty dollar bills from a very favorite relative. It is your first "all mine" money; even your piggy bank has only a few coins in it, so you feel rich. For safekeeping, you fold them carefully and tightly and place them in your pocket, then go out to play with the other kids. Eventually, the party winds down and begins to lose guests until only two are left: [candidate 1] and [candidate 2], both friends of your parents. Having arrived early, both had parked in the family driveway.
Unknown to you, during your play, your twenty dollar bills slipped from your pocket onto the grass in direct path between the friends' cars and the front door to your house. They had not been seen by anyone before the others left because of your tight folding, but, as the weather cooled, the folding loosened and the twentys spread open, one nearest friend car 1, the other near friend car 2, easily seen by anyone passing by them.
Your parents' friends leave, one a few minutes before the other. After they have left, you reach for your twentys ... but they are gone. You search all over to find them. Then you stop to think about where they might be, but, unable to remember, you tell your parents. They have no answer, but agree to help you look. After a while, they convince you to stop looking. They're gone. Then the doorbell rings. It is one of the friends, holding before them a wrinkled twenty dollar bill.
Which friend is it?
3 - You are in the middle of a crisis, and, after prolonged efforts to resolve it, you are at a loss. You have explored every recourse you can think of and, now, time is quickly running out before you could lose everything you hold dear. You have time to contact only one of your two friends, [candidate 1] and [candidate 2]. You need their insight, experience, knowledge, courage, innovation, understanding of your situation and social and business contacts to advise you on how to extricate yourself from your potentially life-shattering predicament.
Which friend do you choose?