“If we see them on the street, if we read about them in the news, if we hear about them from our friends—if they come into our consciousness in any way—they are candidates for our loving-kindness and compassion. It’s an assignment without boundaries, without borders, and we’re forever engaged in on-the-job training.”
— Pema Chodron, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change
There are a lot of candidates for our compassion and loving-kindness right now. I’m finding the practice easier when I’m holding compassion for people who have lost their jobs and businesses, who have lost their health, or are working long hours to serve others. Holding loving-kindness for politicians I don’t agree with, and people whose actions I don’t agree with, there’s the work, there’s the challenge. When I get upset with someone’s actions—and sometimes I’m utterly furious—can I bless them and let it go? I try. And then I accept myself whether I can do it in the moment or not. On-the-job training.
“The oak fought the wind and was broken, while the willow bent when it must and survived.”
– Robert Jordan, The Fires of Heaven
I read this quote as an introduction to Upside Down In The Middle of Nowhereby Julie T. Lamana. A book about hurricane Katrina that reminded me catastrophes keep coming; they are nothing new. Some are more global and some are more local. Some are more collective and some are more personal.
“Graceful surrender through accepting reality is one aspect of wisdom.”
— Rebecca Jackson Aydelette, SoulCollage Community Update, April 2020
I choose surrender over relentless fighting against the experience. I accept bending in the harsh wind that’s blowing, over being broken. I accept my best as my best, without judgment about who is doing better or worse on any given day. I choose to focus on the positive, connect with my loving circle of friends that bring me joy, stay active or stay quiet as needed, look around and appreciate a world that’s awake with the new beginnings of springtime, and use art and creativity, and every other tool in my toolbox, for maintaining physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
“I did get somewhat more work done when I was on my leave—and I had much more energy at night after a day spent lollygagging instead of working in the office. But the huge wads of time I now had oppressed me—more time to be lazy meant more time to feel guilty, too.”
— Phyllis Korkki, The Big Thing: How to Complete Your Creative Project Even If You’re a Lazy, Self-Doubting Procrastinator Like Me
I have a friend who experiences absolutely no guilt, regardless of how he spends his time. He spends zero time fretting about what he does or does not get done. Being retired, he spends his time as he wishes and each thing is exactly as worthwhile as the next. He doesn’t give more or less value to house/yard work vs. reading news vs. bike riding vs. video game playing vs. novel reading vs. dog walking vs. taking photos vs. hanging with friends. It’s all good. He doesn’t drain off one iota of his energy judging how he spends his time, feeling guilty, feeling lazy, or feeling bad. I want to be more like that. I tend to have a huge list of things that “should get done” before I get to relax, enjoy life, and have fun. Right now I have so much time and yet I still feel guilty if I laze about and read a book or watch an hour of Sugar Rush. There is a value system that makes me feel guilty for sitting around watching people make cupcakes. I would like to perfect becoming a human being instead of a human doing. And again, accept what I’m doing as the best I can do.
And one final quote I love…
“It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”
— Anne Lamott
I am so aware and so grateful for the people that are lifting my spirits right now by reaching out, sharing something funny, lending a hand in a small way. I’m trying to do that too.