This is one of my favorite quotes. I think it is also an excellent example of being compassionate as well. We often feel we have to be all in on something. This says different. This says it is okay not to be perfect. It is okay to not hit the mark. This says that we can try again tomorrow and that is still courage to reach our ideals. I used to feel beaten down and defeated at the end of the day because people were so mean, and all I wanted to do was be nice. I felt bad about being cynical and jaded about people. Even still though, there was always a small part of me that continued to try. I didn’t really understand it. How can I keep doing this to myself. Why did I keep doing this to myself. Why couldn’t I make the switch from Optimistic to Pessimistic. It seemed to be pessimistic was a lot less hurtful. I wouldn’t expect people to be kind, empathetic or compassionate.
At my lowest, I loathed the fact that I still had that seed of optimism in people; in humanity. Why could I not just let it go. I had been hurt badly by someone I had tried to believe only the best about. I tried over and over, day after day to deal with this person. In the end always feeling trampled down, insignificant and worthless. I have a tendency when hurt to do a lot of self-analysis. Sometimes that includes reading books. I can’t tell you what book I was reading at the time. Sometimes I think we are drawn to a book for just one sentence we need in our life at that exact moment. In this book I had stumbled upon a Nelson Mandela quote that just seemed to breathe optimism right back in me. It was renewed with a strong steady flame.
I wasn’t excusing this persons behavior but I was no longer taking on the hurt they caused either. I could change. I could embrace who I felt I really wanted to be a kind, compassionate caring person. I would not live up to this others idea of who I was, manipulative controlling and cruel. I would prove them wrong day by day by having the courage to practice being compassionate anew each day. It wasn’t until I realized being compassionate was a practice, not just who you are, that I seemed to get anywhere. It first had to start with being compassionate to me. WHAT? I had to be gentle with myself? I had to forgive myself for not always having compassionate thoughts and behavior? I didn’t know how to do that. This was when I really put that first quote into daily practice. I would tell myself, ” So I didn’t roar today, tomorrow I will try again. I am doing the best I can. Tomorrow is another day.” I didn’t realize what I was doing was basically positive affirmations. I just knew it was working. Slowly but surely the hurt from people being mean stung less and less.
My appetite drenched for more, I read more and more books about compassion, love and kindness. I read Buddha. I read Nawang Khechog. I delved more into Tibetan Buddhism and reached deep into Native American culture. Sitting Bull, Black Elk, Chief Seattle and ate up ideas from the Dakota and Lakota nations. I was slowly learning that I could piece together what and how I wanted to believe and thus behave. These books, these words, these people fed and fanned the flame inside me. The flame that wanted and needed to believe in compassion, empathy, love and kindness.
I am not saying the hate and the heartache that is going on in the world today is not affecting me. It is. In fact, I am fairly sure it has been hindering my writing as I can not wrap my head around this kind of hate. Where as the me of several years ago would have hardly been surprised by the hate of today. The only difference from the several years ago me and now is, I will try again tomorrow. I will try again the tomorrow after that and continue on trying again. Because I know, the courage to be compassionate does not always have to be loud and flashy. I will continue to hunt the news and media for kindness, compassion and empathy. I will continue to share that! If it has rekindled the flame in one person to be more compassionate, it has been worth it. I myself may not be able to make humanity turn back to being compassionate but I can cast the first stone of kindness. I can toss compassion to those around me. I can disperse empathy as the medication it truly is.
It is an excruciatingly slow process. I can wish it is not such a slow process. I can. However, I can’t let that hold me back. I can’t let that keep me from showing love and compassion. If you look back over the past several years you can see it. Love has made some huge wins. Hate tries to fire back. It is up to us if we want to feed that hate or refuse it. I am not saying let people off the hook for their actions. No, I am saying though meet their actions with love. Take the time to see why and how they got to this point. LISTEN to them. Have empathy for their position but rebuke the hate and smother it in love and caring. As a Mother, I do this. I listen to my daughter when she is so angry and upset. When she feels a deep injustice has been dealt to her. It won’t get her out of trouble for her actions but it lets her know I care. I hear her and that is all any one ever wants, to be heard. To be seen. It is past time we start doing this with our neighbors, our friends, and yes even strangers.
Join us. Read, Share, Write. 1000 Voices of Compassion Speak is just that. Voices crying out for compassion to be heard. To be practiced. We are just one big village asking other villages to listen. To not drowned in the hate and intolerance and injustice of this world but to see the positive.