It is not my intent to be uncooperative or argumentative. I never rise in the morning with a plan to see others as difficult or ungrateful. But, soon antigens like stress, fatigue, and illness feed into the chaos of my day and next thing you know otherwise favorable relationships begin to sour.
It is easy to defend my actions, to blame others, and to deny the fear that gives rise to my crustiness. But, for what? Why is it that just when I need kindness most I fuel the unrest?
If we seek empathy, acceptance, and compassion from others, we must first practice it ourselves. Reflecting on how we come across and how we see others may help us to be more patient with the “cantankerous” people who cross our paths each day…and that just might make it a little less likely that we will be the cantankerous ones.
Just humming along, everything seeming to go according to plan.
Then, there it is…the morsel of doubt…the blip in confidence…suddenly I have lost my way.
On the outside the path appears unchanged but on the inside the screen has just gone dark.
In that blip, that fractional space of darkness, I am momentarily paralyzed by thoughts that I am not all that…I don’t know what I’m doing…I become lost in judgment and expectations.
Everyone has them, those points of doubt when the screen seems to go blank. That’s when we must dig deep and patiently allow the system a chance to reboot, clearing out the malware and drawing on the back up files of imagination, courage, and wisdom to stay the course.
A stirring, an imbalance, an unthinkable happens and there I am…swirling in thoughts and emotions.
Although we seem unconnected, we are tethered undeniably to others’ experiences, their pain, their suffering, their anger. Their division and righteousness becomes mine, even when I don’t want it to be.
And then comes the arduous task of sifting. Sifting through the messages in all of this…not what it means to my community or the statement it makes about my society, but the fundamental lesson for me in the perceived tragedies and suffering that stand before me.
I dare not admit how my thoughts flow in circular motions…how I cannot point at the right or wrong…it all just seems to come back to me, to the fear I have that any one of them could be me.
These labels belong to my deepest shadows and like threads dancing on a loom, have long since been woven into the fabric of me.
So, I turn my anger to the scariest one in an attempt to cut that thread. And then the story unfolds, my experience is defined by calling out the grossest attributes of others although deep down inside I know they are still undeniably tethered to me, undeniably me.
It is then that I must fill with compassion, for each of them and for me. I must allow these situations and the contrast they provide to take me back to the center of my being, to turn inward and calm the swirling from the inside. Instead of needing the contrast to tug at the fabric from the outside as if separate from me, I turn inward to reweave the threads, to smooth the snag so that the fabric on the outside lays out more seamlessly.
Each time the contrast begins to pull and tug at me again, I slow the loom, treasure that thread, and remember that no matter what any of us have done or who any of us seem to be, the threads are the same – it is a complex fabric that tethers you and me.