Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it’s like to live inside somebody else’s skin. Frederick Buechner in “Wishful Thinking.”
Compassion is a wonderful thing. It helps us to be kind to others. It is a gift. To be able to understand what someone else is going through on a deep level can be enlightening.
There is also another side to compassion. One can feel the pain so deeply that they are too involved. We have to have the ability to know that although we understand we are not that person. Sometimes people who feel other’s pain very deeply are called “empaths.” Empaths often have trouble removing themselves from the situation. They become so involved that it may not help the other person and can be harmful to them. That is why Buechner calls it a “sometimes fatal capacity.”
This is one of those things for which we have to find balance. Compassion is needed for us to be loving people. But we do have to be able to discriminate between what is enough and what is too much? It can be a tricky thing to do.
An old man said: I never wanted work that was useful to me but loss to my brother. For I have this expectation, that what helps my brother is fruitful for me. From Desert Father in Desert Wisdom translated by Yushi Nomura
How often we spare no time for what our desires do to others. We think nothing of climbing over someone to get a better job. Students cheat in class to get the best grades—-hurting themselves and the other students. And in today’s scene people aren’t wearing masks because is it annoying to them…taking chances with someone else’s life. So many think only of themselves. We live in a “me first” world.
We have to turn things around and teach values to our children…values that respect others and understand that our choices can hurt others. We have to train up compassionate and loving people.
The American Dream is to reach a point in your life where you don't have
to do anything you don't want to do and
can do everything that you want to do. Jerry Reinsdorf
People have had bumper stickers that said “whoever dies with the most toys wins.” The focus for a long time has been “me first.” We idolize the rich, the famous and those whose life seems perfect to us. We think “just how I want to live.” The sad truth is that the majority of those who have that life are not living the life we think. So many of them have died of drug overdoses, committed suicide, had multiple divorces and aren’t really happy.
The people who are happy are living a different kind of life. Most of them care more about people than they do money or things. They give freely of themselves and their bounty. It doesn’t matter how much they have they will share even if it leaves them little.
Our vision of how we think we want to live is so very skewed. Wishing always to want things we don’t need, stepping on people to get what we want does not bring joy. Living a life of caring and compassion does.
Another Doctor visit today. One more step forward. Each one gives me a good feeling. At least we are getting things out of the way.
It is so frustrating to stay here day after day. I know that it is the same for everyone. Those of us who are risk will have to be careful for a good while. I am glad to see that some things are able to open and people will have jobs. To be out of work with lots of bills is a terrible place to be. My heart goes out to them. There are things that we can do to help. I hope you can find ways where you live to show caring. It is the most important thing to respect and have compassion for others. If everyone could do that the world would be a much better place.
During this crisis we have seen examples of caring and examples of selfishness. I hope the caring wins out.
I keep a quote book and was looking through it today and found one that I am sure must have been on someone’s blog but I just love it.
If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. The Dalai Lama
Not only is this very true but I love his sense of humor.
Each of us lives a life of importance. Even though we are quarantined and distancing we are needed. It seems that there is not much that we can do to help but that is not true.
Yesterday I ordered groceries from the store and they were delivered by a family…father, mother, two young girls. There were driving a nice car….not expensive but good. Obviously the parents work and no longer have jobs. So many people have been laid off or the place they work is closed. This may be their only way to make money. At least when I order groceries delivered I can give them a generous tip since it all goes to them.
The restaurants near us that are supplying take-out food are having their wait staff deliver it. We can pick it up but the delivery helps someone who has no income at this time. I am spending so much less than usual I can surely space some for those in need.
Admittedly it is small help but it is help. So many people are in dire straits and we have no idea of knowing how this will turn out. If you are one of the blessed and have an income, a place to live, food to eat and safety please do what you can to help those who don’t have anything.
Yesterday when coming back from the grocery we were behind at school bus with a police car behind it. The bus stopped and we remained stopped. The bus didn’t move and we just sat there. In a few minutes the bus pulled forward and to the side of the road. Not being sure if to pass or not we drove alongside the police car. I put my window down to ask if we should pass. The police office said to go on by that they were delivering food.
It made me feel good. The school buses are not being used right now and what a wonderful thing to do. Obviously the county where we live has decided to use the police, when they are available, and the school bus drivers are not working. This helps everyone.
This shows me that our community is finding ways to help those who can’t get out to get needed supplies.
It seems that this pandemic has brought out the best and the worst in people. I have heard stories and seen people hoarding things with not thought for others. I have also seen neighbors getting food for people at risk and offering whatever support is needed.
This quote from Charles Dickens seems to sum it all up:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
― A Tale of Two Cities
This says it all and fits as well today as when it was written. It sums up succinctly everything that is going on. All the foolishness, all the wisdom, all the greedy people, all the giving people.
Nothing seems to have changed since the time of Dickens.
Today we went to see the movie 1917. I am not fond of war movies but my husband wanted to see it. I don’t want to talk about the movie but something that came to me while watching.
Another war….how many since? Why are we this way? Why do we go to war rather than solve problems? Why are we greedy and selfish? Why do we hate those who are not like us? Why are we not loving and kind and compassionate?
Did we start out that way or did we grow into it? And the real question is what can we do to change?
Lots of questions and no real answers. Rilke’s quote tells us to live in uncertainty and wait for answers.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” Rainer Maria Rilke
I hope that he is right and that some day, somehow, a miracle will occur and the earth will be a place of peace and love.
Our church makes up bags of goodies for homeless people. It has a variety of items in it…some food items, hygiene things (like toothbrush) and a $5.00 bill. I try to have one in my car at all times. Several places that I stop at a light there are people wanting a hand out of some sort. Every single person that I hand a bag to has said “thank you and God bless you.” I know the bags don’t solve the problem but even small things can make a difference.
If you can manage it keep something in your car to give to those in need. It doesn’t have to be as complex as what the church makes up but it will be received with gratitude. I have a friend that has some small food items she carries. For those who are hurting anything will help. Add a note with a kind thought to it. “God loves you, you are important, you matter.” Whatever you can come up with. Those notes do make a difference.
Today seemed lost. My friend’s husband ended up in the hospital and I spent the day sitting in halls, cafeteria, wherever waiting for answers. Because of the flu outbreak they are only letting one person in at a time. I found places to stay away from the sick, read, knit and watch things on my Kindle. It was a day for kind thoughts and waiting.
We arrived there about 10:30 and got some answers at 4:00 pm. He has a kidney infection and will be kept over night and assessed in the morning. I hope they send him home as the hospital is a source of infections.
So often I have struggled with what I am needed to do in my retirement but I think this day puts it in place. I am able to drop everything to be with a friend and that is something special. I am doing what is needed.
Sometimes it is hard to see what is right in front of us. We all want to do something that “counts.” Counts how? Something that everyone sees? That is not what is important. Important is answering a need. Important is being there. So no one knows this is how I spent my day. It doesn’t matter. I was there when needed.
Be there for someone’s needs.