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Re-member. Dis-cover. Com-passion.

Language is a living thing, and like waking up in the morning, it’s easy to take for granted. And just like waking up in the morning, it’s also something worth appreciating.

I write this weekly letter to myself, as much as to you. I write it to remind us all to live with compassion for ourselves and compassion for others. So, I think about compassion regularly. The prefix com- means with. And passion comes from the root pati, meaning to suffer. Com-passion is to suffer together or suffer with another; with an other. We all, all of us alive, suffer. That’s not to say we are unhappy which is an entirely different thing. But life by definition, includes suffering. To have compassion for yourself is to accept that suffering is a part of the human experience without trying to prevent it, refuse it or defy it. To deny or attempt to refute suffering would be to deny your very existence. I recommend you avoid that. Instead, when suffering comes to you, whether in body, in mind or in spirit, be kind to your suffering self. Treat yourself with care, as you would treat a loved one. Dis-cover the power of empathy for yourself and for others.

To discover something is to remove – dis – what prevents you from seeing what is already there. Dis is the opposite of, lack of, not, as in dishonest; or the opposite of, as in disallow. When you remove a barrier, that is, when you dis-cover a thing, you see what is obstructed. To be compassionate toward yourself (and others) is to dis-cover our common humanity. Suddenly, you re-member that you and everyone living on this planet are alike – we are humans who suffer.

Re- means again, anew, once more, afresh. And member harks back thousands of years over multiple roots to mean flesh, a part of the whole, a unit, a constituent – both metaphorical and metaphysical. To re­-member is to become whole again, to join anew, to connect once more. Re-membering is recognizing your kindred spirit.

This week, when you wake up in the morning, take a moment. Sit. Take a breath and have gratitude for being alive. Have gratitude for being able to think! Focus on your awakened self. Re-member who you are. Dis-cover what barriers keep you from love. Live with com-passion for yourself. If you are able to do that, you will remember and discover all the other people in this world who count on your compassion.

In this week of remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dedication to equality and brotherhood, I wish you peace and love.


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