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.
I need to put up with two or three caterpillars if I want to get to know the butterflies.
The Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I love butterflies. They are so beautiful. But caterpillars….they are not ugly but they do love my parsley. They can strip all the plants in nothing flat. So because I love butterflies I let them knowing what good is to come.
This is true of so many things in life. We do have to work our way through the hard places to get to the good ones. Right now it is hard to see the end of this particular journey…both mine and the world’s. I do know that there is an end and there will be butterflies to come. I am just anxious to get there as everyone is. Hopefully it won’t be too long now before we can be with others and hug. We will be able to go to church and eat inside at a restaurant. The day is coming. Hold on to that.
We have had rain every day for the last week. Not just a little bit of rain but heavy downpours. Today, as I started writing, we are having a major storm with heavy rain and strong winds. I have not heard anything about a tornado but some of the blasts have pulled limbs from trees. The rain has blown all the way up to the porch windows and I can’t really see out.
Before all this started we got more stuff checked off our to-do list. Flu shots and the last of the shingrix (?) Vac. I have been working on the Christmas presents that I am knitting/crocheting trying to get them done. Then I can shop in Austin. All in all progress has been made. Fortunately this month is not as busy with Dr visits as last month so maybe there is some time to breathe.
I can really see the benefit of going through everything you own. It makes you clear out things that you have saved for no reason at all. Bags of trash are going out of this house. Some things will go to charity and some will be sold. I find myself not horribly sad about this. Things are not as important to me as people and it is interesting to see what I couldn’t/didn’t throw away before this. This is a good feeling.
There are some time when I am excited about being able to decorate with a whole new style and then some times when I know that I will miss some things. In reality, family is what matter the most and I know that we will find our lives simpler, easier and happier.
Today I have encountered several things that bring into focus some major issues plaguing our culture today. I think we may be beginning to see the result of changes in the precepts for raising children. As we began an era were in most families two parents were working the parents, trying to spend “quality” time with their children were lured into the idea that everything should be as perfect for them as they could make it. I am not accusing the parents. The changes in society brought this about.
Now if things aren’t perfect for that group of adults they feel deprived and entitled to more. They grew up thinking that everything would always go their way and want to insist on it in their adult years.
At the same time we began to change how children were treated in society as a whole. We fretted about feelings so that there ended up being no winners or losers. Everyone was treated “the same.” Unfortunately everyone is not the same. That is actually a good thing and learning early that things aren’t fair prepares you for what you face later in life.
Because children were the most important thing in the world they would naturally not care about others but only look at continuing to get what they expected. Others don’t matter. Many times money was used to get them what they wanted as in the case of the parents who bought their children into colleges. What did they learn from that?
We have lost values. Values are “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.” (dictionary) Unfortunately I sense that this may be the beginning of a major change in our way of life. The decline of morals and the change of values to “me” and money is a bad trend. We have to correct this direction.
Bouts of grief come and go with me. For some reason driving in the car seems to bring them on. That makes no sense. Grief is always that way. It comes in waves often without warning. Sometimes people don’t realize that it isn’t just a death that we grieve. Any kind of change can bring it on. We grieve for what has been even if we are looking forward to what is to come.
Having moved many times in my life I expect to be sad about what I am leaving but settle well when I get rooted in the next place. In some ways it is refreshing to think that this big downsize means that we will be getting some new furniture of the inexpensive variety. Moving lots of furniture is more expensive that buying new if you are wise about what you buy. We will take things that we love but that is mostly art work and personal items.
A lot of our furniture was passed down from my family and is not necessarily what I would have bought. Even though it has links to the past I have no regrets about letting it go. An estate sale agent will handle that.
It is almost like a new start and a chance to try some different styles that can be modified easily.
This is Tillie. Tillie knows how to relax. She is trying to teach me the same thing. Look at her. Don’t you wish you could rest like that…not a worry in the world. But that is now. Tillie is a rescue. We don’t know what happened to her before but we do know how she is now. She has shaken the past away and now rests without fear. She is calm and is still trying to teach me that I can relax and the world will continue.
One of the blog writers I read this week talked about his journey’s. He has done much traveling recently. I can relate to that even though I haven’t moved an inch yet.
We are all on a journey whether we journey in the same place our whole live or venture far away. It is a life journey and it brings us to many places. We experience so many things on our journey and if we are lucky we learn much.
As I near (next month) my 80th year I can see all the twists and turns that my life has taken. The journey has been eventful and, I hope, will continue to be so. Our experiences help us to grow and become wise. That is why in generations past the elderly were so respected. They had so much wisdom to impart. We still do if there is anyone to hear.
I have been blessed with children and grandchildren who sometimes take advantage of my wisdom and benefit from it. I hope that can continue and that those who come after can use what us older ones have to share.
I want to write about my husband. He graduated from West Point in 1962. It was shortly after that there was war in Viet Nam. I won’t comment on that war except to talk about my husband.
He went there for the first time about 1967. At that time he was a Captain and was assigned to be a company commander. To this day he talks little about his time there other than the moments that were amusing in some way or good stories to tell. He has never talked about the other side. Thankfully he did not have PTSD although I’m sure there were times when all that he experienced he felt deeply. He did come home with malaria and still has attacks of it to this day.
He has never talked with his children or grandchildren about those days. As we prepare to move things have been pulled out of closets and they discovered that their father has 5 bronze stars for valor. To read the commendations fills me with pride and love.
When he returned from his first posting I received a letter from the men in his company sending us money they collected for us to go out to dinner. The letter said that he was the reason they were still alive and that he was the best company commander they had ever seen. He deserved that and it meant more than any other accolade.
He did have to go back for a second time and worked with the The Montagnard people who are the indigenous peoples of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He loved these people and brought home some of the weaving the women did. This is a bracelet much like the one I have.
They were given as a symbol of respect and friendship. He was made a member of the group he worked with which required him to drink their version of an alcoholic beverage which he said he barely got down. He respected them greatly.
He has always followed the traits learned at West Point of Duty, Honor, Country and always will. He expects people to behave with integrity and be truthful. The many times he is disappointed he accepts the ways of the world and moves on.
I am proud of his life and he will continue following those things he learned at West Point for the rest of his life.
One of the difficult things during this time is trying to get everything in order to move. When one has lived somewhere since 1976 there is a lot to remember, get changed and the paper work done. Unfortunately my husband is only able to help some. The things he can do are a big help but for the first time I feel the burden is mostly on my shoulders.
I know that all will get done but I do seem to be a little overwhelmed. Oh well. Things will go on and I will be able to relax once all is done.
Paperwork is a pain in the neck and I am throughly tired of it. It seems that everything is much harder than it should be. Always something else needed or something going wrong.