It's been quite a start to the week/month/year/decade. Between learning that a family friend is on the cusp of homelessness, watching an impeached Trump's vertiginous megalomania grow more profound day by day, and now worrying about international reaction to the assassination or targeted killing -- depending on one's point of view -- of Iranian general Soleimani, I lay my head on my pillow at night wondering what the heck I can do about the world. Sometimes, and this week was one of those times, it feels like everything around me is spinning out of control.
As helpless as it makes me feel, I know that the first step for me is to breathe and the next is to practice compassion. First, practice compassion for myself. It's okay that I feel worried or sad or frustrated or...well, you get the idea. Feelings!! Breathing again, I recognize that my feelings, while temporal, are an internal guide to my next steps. I can take the time to evaluate the pluses and minuses and neutrals of how I feel, and I can be compassionate toward myself. Breathing again, I can be compassionate for others who are worried or sad or frustrated or more. Slowing down, feeling compassion, breathing again, I can start to evaluate my responsibilities, options and choices.
Years ago, I contemplated the question, What is my purpose? My answer was this: To help people live with compassion for themselves and for others.
This past week or so has reminded me to renew my attention and focus to my purpose. I do indeed firmly believe we all would benefit if we all practiced compassion regularly. I know I do. Still, I take the reminder to heart: this is a practice. Some of us master it better than others. Some never even think of it or think it's just stupid, and others get it from time to time.
Living with compassion -- first for yourself and then for others -- is always a choice. So it's always a practice. Let us keep practicing.