There’s a lot of ‘stuff’ out in the world that annoys me, some of it even disgusts me. I’m quick tempered and I know that is not a good thing. I’ve been working on that for, let’s see, how old am I…right, 45, so for about that long. Seriously though, while I’m still a work in progress, I’ve made strides in my life in not flying off the handle and letting every little thing bug the crap out of me. Friends would say, so would enemies, that I fail frequently. They’re right. I do. I still can fly off the handle quicker than a monkey can peel a banana…hmm, probably quicker. I was what was called ‘sensitive’ as a child; would cry (figuratively and literally) at the drop of a hat and not just over things that directly affected me or rather, my person. No, I cried for the bird that fell out of his nest. I cried for the child in my class whose purple crayon broke. I cried for the kid who was tripped and kicked in the hallway because for some reason he was despised by our peers. I didn’t just cry, be it real tears of in my heart, I always tried to do something to make the situation better. I bundled leaves and twigs around the little fallen bird in hopes he would survive the winter day while I was at school. I gave my only purple crayon to the classmate who now had none. I helped the boy who was bullied up off the floor while yelling at the kid who did it, “Why are you such an asshole?” And then one day, my compassion died. It was replaced by anger. I was angry because of all the bullying I endured at school. I was angry because I could never seem to make my mother proud of me. I was angry because the world was a mean, cold, cruel place and I was tormented by it all. I was only 15 the day I let my compassion die and become replaced by anger.
From that point on I made it a mission in life to arm myself with information, knowledge: to *know* facts and figures, data, that would prove me right. With that and my anger, I marched into war. Life. I wore that chip on my shoulder for years and years. I banged my drum against injustice and cruelty and channeled my anger and my intellect, I believed, in a positive manner. Somewhere along the way, an acquaintance made this remark to me, “You could do a lot of good for a lot of people if you could learn to stop being so angry at the world.” Her remark pissed me off. Surprise. At a certain point, in my early twenties, I finally recognized that I needed some help and sought counseling. I’ve done counseling ever since, on and off, as I felt I needed it, to give me a sounding board that is safe and positive environment to work out life issues, growing as a person, and finding a calm center. I recommend it – or something close to it – for everyone. Having a safe person, who is knowledgeable and has your best interests at heart, to talk to in order to work shit out is something every human being should have.
It is today that I realize that while I’ve not completely let go of all my anger, and my fuse does get lite over real injustice, there is something growing in me more and more as I age: My compassion. It’s been a long road in many ways, but I do believe that my compassion has returned. It may not have blighted out all my anger, but there’s enough there again that it follows so close on the heels of my anger that it makes an impact. It makes a difference. I can see now what I couldn’t see at 15 or 20. It’s ok that I cry over the hurts that exist in the world. And while anger has its place, what really brings about positive change is positive emotion and that brings me to the word of the day. That is what the human race needs a lot more of…compassion. We rant and rage against so much today, in many ways legitimately so, as there are injustices and crimes against humanity taking place every second in every part of the world. But being human is difficult. It is the greatest thing to be….but come on, it’s hard. We are a make-up of our upbringing, environment, experiences, successes, failures, tragedies, triumphs, genetics, personality, and emotions all packaged up and thrown into the chaos that is the world. That is A LOT to handle. We need a little slack. We need a little leeway. We all need a little compassion. And what do we have to do to get what we need? Give away what we need. Send it out there and the Universe returns it manifested.
So, while the guy who cuts me off in traffic may very well be a jerk, I’ll be thankful I didn’t have an accident and show a little compassion for him. Maybe he’s late for a job interview it took him 6 months to get after being out of work for a year. When the woman serving me behind the counter is treating me as if I’m a problem instead of a customer, I will smile and nod and tell her I hope her day gets better and that I hope there’s a little happiness sprinkled in her day. And when the, apparently, closed-minded, bigoted person tells me on the internet that I am wrong for what I believe and for what I stand up for, I’ll show compassion for him too, because it must suck to be so oppressed by your own fear that you must lash out at others who are different than you.
Being compassionate won’t stop me from seeing the inappropriate humor in life, speaking my mind or standing up for what’s right. It will, I think, deepen my perspective of why I speak up and how.