I got a couple of emails this week that troubled me. Since I profess to aspire to help people live with compassion for themselves and others, I immediately tried to understand the writers. I thought about each person with compassion. I put myself in their shoes. I tried to see things from their specific point of view and imagined how they experience their world and issues in it.
But the practice of compassion for others must go hand in hand with having compassion for oneself. It is a balancing act that won't work if you always put others before yourself, if you constantly make excuses for someone or suppress your own real feelings to keep peace. So, I examined the first tenet with additional care and determined that I need to also honor my own point of view, my own beliefs.
After taking a few deep breaths and settling myself, I wrote back. These are important relationships. It is worth it to me to work on them, even if it is uncomfortable in the moment, and that I can adopt a balanced and long view. One never knows how things will turn out and all I can control is myself and my own choices and reactions. But I know all of our lives will go on and on, day in, day out. Things will change for me, and things will change for them. I can only act with integrity, humility and compassion in every current moment to the best of my ability, and then just keep on going.
I was reminded of the great Curtis Mayfield's "Keep on Keeping On," where he sang, "That there's still a lot of love among us / And there's still a lot of faith, warmth, and trust / When we keep on keeping on." I believe it is true, but remember this: No one said it was going to be easy.