Tag Archives: compassion

Present or Absent?

Life has been so hellishly busy I’ve barely had time to do more than watch a bit of TV before I fall asleep for an hour or two and then tend to my one year old who seems to require comfort and/or nursing every two to three hours still.  Sleep is at a premium and certainly not something I get enough of, nor do I get time off, and the worst part of it all isn’t even that I haven’t gotten to much writing but rather how very alone it’s felt at times.  Everywhere I look people are chattering away on facebook with some kind of ease between them.  An ease that I rarely if ever feel and often feel excluded from despite these things involving people I know in real life.  Truth be told I hadn’t even acknowledged to myself what space I was inhabiting when a hurt that made no rational sense to me would come up.

And then I received an email from a friend of my husband’s, now a friend of mine, discussing what it was like to be a small business owner (this friend is one) and, in my case, being the wife of one.  The hours are excruciating, the pay sucks (the ultimate in ‘pay it forward’), the stress of making it work, and the recognition is varied.  Except for me.  The wife.  It’s such a unique experience in the world of public sector or corporate employees that very few seem to understand the totality of the sacrifices involved.  This very lonely and relatively unacknowledged place is where I reside and until the words “How are you holding up?” were uttered I had no idea how bereft I had been of true understanding and compassion.

It’s a simple question to be sure and for once I felt like someone gave a shit about the answer.  I almost cried over my keyboard when I read it and actually did shed tears when I responded with the awareness I had previously been missing.  So many conversations are had wherein a question is asked and the subsequent silence given while waiting for the expected answer seems to be only a pause in between times for the other person to talk.  I think it’s fair to assert that many of us have been guilty of it, but that doesn’t negate how this short changes all of us.  That genuine connection, that acknowledgment and understanding, is missing when we seek to rush through anything.  And even if time is given it simply isn’t enough.  Being present, being THERE, wanting to be there – to listen, is what matters.

And it’s so damn hard.

The world is riddled with distractions, more so now than ever, and that keeps energy and intent scattered about, flitting from one topic to another.  Space, it seems, is a vortex teeming with many thoughts and no real capability of inhabiting an emotion or thought for any substantive length of time.  It’s hard to sit and observe this and ponder if perhaps this is merely a result of my pretentiousness – that the ostracism I feel is merely a backlash for what I don’t put out, my Cassandra like presence when it comes to talking politics, or just that I fail in typical social norms of behavior.  It would be dishonest of me to play a complete victim when there are certain factors I might contribute to my own loneliness and disenfranchisement.

What I do know beyond the shadow of a doubt, however, is that there are three people in the last few weeks who asked me simply and genuinely how I’m holding up with the current stresses and energy draws of a growing business (and a rather reluctantly absent husband) with another in the works while I manage the homestead with limited energy that must be pushed to limitless and finances that are excruciatingly tight in an economy that is forever making things more expensive.  And a world that seems to think the job of a stay at home mom should be reward in it of its self.  That time away from kids and house should be unnecessary if you’re doing it right.

What this really is a failure to acknowledge the true difficulties of the situation that may be present for these individuals.  No specifics should be necessary for compassion and empathy to be summoned.  Being present doesn’t require money, it doesn’t require a genius level IQ.  It requires heart.  It requires effort.  It requires the very priceless things we have to give.  This, not love, is, in my opinion, what there’s just too little of in this world.

To those who embody this, those who ask with present and loving sincerity how someone is – I thank you, for all you are and all you do.

I guess it’s time to read “Miracle of Mindfulness”


Politics Suck – Embrace Humanity

Here in the US many folks are embroiled in one of two things: football – and the atrocious calls the replacement refs are making – and political theater.  For once I’m not offended or too annoyed with the football discussions.  This is, perhaps, one of the first times in my adult life where I can honestly say the political conversation is so absurd folks might as well be talking about something as ineffectual and non life altering as a sport they don’t play.  The conversations are rarely about anything substantive with chants of “MY guy/team is better than YOUR guy/team” blaring all over cyber space en masse.

While today I’m slightly more angry and frustrated than I am sad, my words in a recent interview are what stand clearly in my awareness:

The question of “who does this law/regulation hurt” is ignored in favor of the unacknowledged favoritism of a certain group or individual over another. Penalizing law abiding citizens is rather like playing favorites with your children. It hurts an innocent for no good reason other than the self-imposed, self-permitted prejudice.  This is so very sad to me.

This can be said the world over – no matter your politics, nationality, or religion – politics has done what, in my opinion, it was always meant to do: Separate people.  Not from each other necessarily (although between religion and politics this happens a great deal), but each individual from their own humanity.  The conversation during elections isn’t about how one can help another person, about how a politician or party’s actions is bent toward penalizing some individuals simply because of income, sexual orientation, race, gender or, worse in the case of US, geographic locale that permits bombing and drone attacks.  They’re all about the champions each of us has selected and how they’re better or worse than someone else’s.  And as so many of us do this we believe we’re supporting who/what we need to because of humanity while in actuality we eschew it in favor of rhetoric and the misplaced hope that a lesser evil is some sort of good.  The argument is about how to decorate the 90th floor of a skyscraper without ever having looked to see the steel encasing it was brittle.

The hard questions, those we need to ask ourselves, go unanswered.  Questions like – Why do I believe someone who makes more money than me/my family should pay a higher percentage of their income (when the same percentage of their income paid in taxes is more than what I pay)?  What is “fair”?  Why do I think going to war is a good idea?  Why do I want to send others to do it when I’m not willing to sign up?  If I sign up why should I make others pay my salary and weapons when they’re so against anyone, me or my enemies, killing/dying?  Why do I not want “these” people to die?  Why do I want “those” people to die?

In each and every question lies a piece of our own humanity.  With each answer we reclaim more of it.

The rhetoric surrounding the pundit of choice can and will only ever reflect that which the majority of most individuals are willing to confront.  It’s time each person takes a step back, looks into themselves, and asks the hard questions.  Until then each election will bring out more of the same: reflections of the bigotry, resentment, and fear each voter is afraid to confront within themselves.  Without these things a de facto aristocracy could not be tolerated.  Without them the dialogue changes.  Lesser of evils will be viewed as evil and not permissable.  Solutions will come from people, not systems.  Our fellow human beings will exist in our minds and hearts without or apart from the previously prescribed labels.  We will trust our own judgments based upon the ethics each of us have thought of and fought ourselves to have and in so doing will be able to evaluate candidates based upon records, facts.  Change the dialogue and forget politics.  Remember your humanity and, by extension, that of others – even if you disagree with them.