I am waiting for water to boil, and contemplating the peculiar puzzle of refugees, suffering, and fear. I don’t find myself at all concerned about refugees aside from the obvious; they are human and need homes, safe places to sleep, nutritious food, a sense of place, and a source of fulfillment and productivity. Don’t we all, regardless where we live, or where we came from? People.  The concern and stress for me come from the unavoidable awareness of how badly people treat themselves every day, right here at home; what else could be the source of so many having so little compassion?

When the path seems most clear, sometimes the footing is treacherous.

When the path seems most clear, sometimes the footing is treacherous.

Personal experience tells me it is actually incredibly easy to be without compassion if I am unable or unwilling to show myself compassion as a starting point…if that’s true of others also, it suggests that a great many people treat themselves so poorly they have nothing left of compassion, trust, or kindness for others. That’s worth being concerned about – it’s very sad.  Who am I to criticize? Well… I’m human, too, and feeling the sting of associations that lack compassion isn’t foreign to me, and it sucks. So – I think I can safely say more people more easily able to experience compassion (toward themselves, too) has value. So…okay. Now what? How can I really help? What about you? How can you help, too? I don’t really have answers to all those questions, but I have a thought… Isn’t demonstrating compassion a great start? Showing ourselves compassion, too? Modeling the behaviors that feel so right to me at this point in my life, bringing them to life in the world – isn’t that a good starting point? Treating others with compassion sets a tone – and sets an example. So does treating myself with compassion. There are still verbs involved, and sometimes it is worthwhile to pause and really consider myself in the moment; is my reaction in the moment to what is foreign or new really appropriate to the actual known circumstances? Am I living in fear – or in love?

There is so little need to struggle. It may not seem so in some moments, but I have found it is generally vastly easier, and more productive, to give myself a break, show myself some compassion, and to be generous with kindness than to put that same energy into struggling. The world is colored in a very different way if I face the struggles I see with questions, instead of assumptions. How about this one, “How can I help you right now?”

I can look back on a younger me who was a very different person than the woman I am today. Her world was very black and white, clearly defined, with obvious good guys and bad guys, and fairly strict rules of conduct suitable for breaking regularly. She didn’t have much compassion, and wasn’t at all aware of that lack. She treated people fairly callously, and treated herself far worse. She expected the world would treat her well, because all the fairy tales said so, and when the world didn’t follow the plot closely, she felt cheated, betrayed, and wounded. I sound disappointed with her, perhaps, but we’ve come a long way together, and although I can’t quite bring myself to call her well-meaning from this vantage point, I can see her potential shine so brightly across the years. She struggled more than necessary, but didn’t know better, and she had a lot to endure, and to overcome. Did she do her best? Well – I’m sure she thought so then, whatever I think now and it isn’t fair to judge her harshly from the vastly improved perspective I have on a quiet Tuesday at 52; I’ve tidied up a lot of the chaos and damage that she waded through every day.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this – this, too, is a journey. I think I’m just saying… people are  human. Each of us. All of us. Any of us. The cost – and value – of human life can’t be measured on a scale we can really understand. Don’t turn humanity away. Don’t turn your own humanity away. Make yourself welcome in your own experience, at least, and having done so with a sincere, genuine, and compassionate heart… can you still look at your neighbor, or your fellow human being from afar, and say ‘they are not worthy of my help’? Whoever ‘they’ are, they are also human, also worthy.

Anyway. There’s already a single word for this entire post.  “Namaste”

It's your path... you choose your direction.

It’s your path… you choose your direction.