The Art of Compassion

I use my morning walk on my way to my body/mind transformation to reflect upon things. It’s cool, the sun has just begun to peek over the horizon, and the usual hustle and bustle of the Lankershim corridor has yet to begin.

I returned this morning, after another solid hour of pushing myself to the limit, another hour of refusing to give up, to see this lovely Tweet by @jeannevb: “#PIMPtipoftheday: Be kind. You have no clue what’s going on in someone’s life behind that pasted on smile.”

I smiled. Great minds and all, for I was dwelling upon this same subject just a couple of hours earlier.

I had a friend  – a very dear one – say to me recently, “Oh my God. I bet you were a cheerleader, weren’t you? I hated girls like you.”

I replied that I did go out for cheerleading in junior high, and actually made a cut and tossed pom-poms for a bit.

“I knew it,” she said.

Ah, if only.

I tried out to prove to myself that I was just as good as “those” girls. I was a geeky kid; I preferred books to parties. Most Saturday nights found me curled up with my latest literary acquisition, reveling in the pages.

Books were safe. I had a terrible time in junior high. The girls around me were sprouting into young women, with long glossy hair and legs like colts. I still looked like a child. Boys would tape signs to my back that read “Pirates Dream – Sunken Chest.” Even my best friend called me Queen NeverTitties.

Children can be cruel when they form packs. I returned to school after recovering from an equestrian accident; I was forced to walk on crutches. A group of eighth-grade boys would wait for me each day as  I painfully made my way down the exterior of the middle-school. The crutches were quite a conversation piece as I had no cast to accompany them – casts are not applied to a broken pelvis. So the comments would begin: loser, faker, and so on, and then the inevitable moment would arise when one of them would kick the crutches from underneath me, forcing me to teeter precariously, and causing me to fall, on my injured body, more than once. I began to “sick out” from school, until eventually my mother pried the truth from me, and the perps were properly chastened.

I mention this because of many people’s assumption that I have had a gilt life, add to that with Jeanne’s Tweet, which is sweetly reminiscent of the sage words of Atticus Finch: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

I think it’s time for all of us to take a moment now and then, and try on another person’s skin. Life today moves at such a breakneck speed; it’s easy for us to dismiss those who don’t always keep up. Compassion is a commodity that can be hard to come by.

Next time you look at someone and feel the urge to categorize them, try something different – don’t. Don’t presume to know them. Don’t presume that their lives are perfect, for, after all, they are human, and humans are riddled with imperfections. Honor them with compassion, for there but for the grace of God go all of us.

Now, go write.

HRH, Princess Scribe

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About princessscribe

#Filmmaker. Living with #Cancer. #Animal lover and foodie.
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11 Responses to The Art of Compassion

  1. dehelen says:

    Not all cheerleaders were what you may have thought they were either. I was a cheerleader for 4 years. I did not fit in with the others. I also had a high IQ, played in the marching band, read more books than my classmates, had an alcoholic mother, and took care of my younger sister. But on game nights? Yeah, I was cheering my team. Even though most of them didn’t speak to me in school.

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  2. This is especially important in a day and age where people have been hit so hard… You and I know a lot about each other behind the scenes, behind the smiles that we present to the world. Yes, there is pain, bad shit that’s happened. Not only has it shaped who we are today, but how we treat others. Knocking someone else down to somehow heal my pain or reduce the agony I hold inside does nothing but cause more pain and agony. If people would instead turn that spiteful energy into something positive & constructive, this world would be a far better place! 🙂

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    • It would indeed.

      My theory is that true strength is compassionate, for it takes courage and fortitude to dig deep within. Anger is easy to channel; sitting on that anger and not lashing out takes balls of steel 😉

      …and I write this blog, not to throw a pity party – for I don’t. My life, my experiences have shaped me… and my childhood has made me a strong person. Do I have moments of weakness? You betcha. Thankfully, they don’t last long, I just dust of my britches and try, try again.

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  3. Frank Wood says:

    I care not much for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.
    -Abe Lincoln

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  4. Hi Anne: A really fantastic post. Thank you!

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  5. Jacob says:

    Life has a way of repaying those who need it, rewarding those who should be rewarded, and punishing those who deserve it. The problem is we have to walk many miles past the event to look back in hindsight and say who was rewarded, who was repaid and who was punished. But for all of human judgement is it necessary to find that out for yourself? Is it necessary to blame or judge or say “poor me” or “boo them”?

    It is a terrible thing to be the focus of childhood peer group attention because you were different. It’s worse still to let yourself sink to that label of Victim. What do I know about it? Born left handed, a physical trait deemed evil in my Catholic education and forced to use the right hand to write. Result? Speech defect. Stammer, stutter, hesitation, all the big three from the spontaneous age four to age 25. Twenty one years being unable to properly communicate. And in all that time, the skits, the insults, the jokes…

    Compassion helped. Looking behind the fixed smile and the jeers of those who pick on you and wondering “who did you disappoint so much they give you a hard time?”

    Also, like your good self, dusting yourself off and saying “get over it, there’s always someone else with bigger problems”. When we live in the guilt, the blame or the past, we forget to live in the “now” and whilst it’s not a bad thing to visit the past or look to the future, we shouldn’t live in it because our place is here.

    You sound courageous to me, Princess scribe. courageous in that you haven’t let it rule your life, change you from being you, or made you judgmental. You remind me of a story. Buddha once gave a silent sermon on a flower and one of his monks began to smile. Why? No idea. Can’t answer that. I’m not enlightened, but I know what thought jumped into my head only last week.

    Why do we like flowers? What do they do? What use do they serve? Actually, very little: but we love them for just “being” in that moment of time and space. So too are we. Ignore those in life who have insulted us and look at the friends who surround us. Why do they love us? Same answer; we just “are”. It’s that simple and that complex all at the same time. That’s our payback, our reward, and the punishment of those who insulted us. We have friends we love who journey through life with us, but unfortunately for those who missed our friendship along the way, well, that’s for them to deal with.

    But, in agreement with your point, it’s a stronger thing to feel compassion for others, especially those who belittle, blame, insult and erode our sense of self. It’s hard. It can be one of the hardest things if you’re in the wrong mind set for whatever understandable reason, but it’s worth it if we can. For as quoted, how can we look for the imperfections in others when we stare every day at our own.

    Take care,

    Jacob

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    • Compassion is also healing. One of the worst bullies in my school recently resurfaced in a series of mugshots. Life has not been kind to him; he was plagued with mental illness as well as the drug and alcohol addictions that often come along as a form of self-medication. A friend shared the pictures to me, and tears came into my eyes. It was heartbreaking to see his decline painted out in a series of images, each one a little worse than the last. I keep thinking of his parents, and the pain they must feel – they are pretty helpless in terms of being able to save him. He’s homeless, in FL, and seems to exist by committing petty crimes, which leads to temporary incarceration – and shelter.

      I would never gloat off of anyone’s pain. That’s the negative side to this hi-tech world when videos go viral – many of them set off a wave of schadenfreude. *shudders*

      Ultimately, I had my own experiences – some good, some bad – and yet, I know of so many people who had it much worse than me. My family loved me. I am not homeless. I have friends… and so on, and so on.
      xo
      a

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  6. Frank Wood says:

    We must forgive our worst enemies, not for them but for ourselves. Forget religion. We have to forgive to remove the darkness from ourselves. Forgiving does not mean we condone those who inflict trauma on others; it is to remove negative thoughts that will continuously plague us ad infinitum. Without forgiveness, we have the original trauma to deal with as well as repeated trauma thereafter. Attitude can make or break us. To heal is to forgive. The object of our forgiveness is irrelevant . There is no further need for association or communication with that person. Healing our own thoughts optimizes our ability to gain wisdom. In the end, forgiveness is another result of the profound logic of spiritual love and its effect on the human condition.

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