A mix of the thoughts that are swirling at the moment.
THE TALK on COMPASSION went well. Turns out, if you talk about honest-to-goodness challenges, you get more to the heart of what people are wrestling with.
SOCIAL MEDIA Question: If I step back from social media entirely, will I be cutting too many ties? Will I feel completely out of the loop?
IN ESL CLASS, the word “sandwich” stumped even our advanced students, so for our little potluck on Monday, I made a stack of PB & Js, and quartered them so everyone could have a taste. I brought along the peanut butter jar and the jam jar, so they could see what is meant by “jar.” One was glass, the other plastic, so that distinction could be made as well. I love when a student grabs her notebook and pencil when something important is pointed out.
I’VE BEEN ASKED TO SPEAK about compassion . . . in the very week I have struggled with the topic. I guess I need to stop turning away from thinking about this week’s particular frustration and instead turn around and take a closer look at it.
Just what I was trying to avoid.
There are moments, as a speaker, where I feel disqualified because no matter how worthy I believe something is, I can’t claim to have enthusiasm 100% of the time. I grow tired. I get frustrated. I wonder how I got involved in the first place.
So when the request to speak comes at the end of a week when my Compassion Meter is registering low and I feel only 80% as compassionate as I wish to be – okay, maybe 50%, maybe less – I feel they should go ask someone else. I have nothing to give. I’m the wrong person. My only expertise at the moment is in the challenges to compassion. I keep trying to change gears, but I’ve made a half-dozen starts and ended up deleting them all.
I decided to stop swimming against the current.
I made another start, but this time it was to make a list of the times I’ve been ready to give up and the reasons. It felt like I was going in the wrong direction for an inspirational talk. But as I thought about them, I began to remember, in each case, what I did next. What emerged had the makings a good talk about the challenges and how to navigate them, because there are real challenges. Being a person of compassion is a lot more than having a sympathetic feeling toward a person in need. There just might be someone at the gathering who needs to hear that more than what he is expecting to hear – a rah-rah pep talk. It might be more practical and useful, and in the end more fortifying.
I GAVE UP LABELS for Lent. Labels on people. I know it doesn’t sound like a big thing, certainly not up to the level of sacrifice. But in February I felt particularly worn out. There were rants, big and small, from all different sides. One thing they all had in common was the lumping together of people under headings
It was like we had fallen back on a bad habit, like we had grown lazy in our thinking and in our ability to see a person behind the sticker we’d slapped on them.
Labels can be useful, yes, but in this age of serious disunity that keeps ratcheting up, I felt a strong need to step back from the fray. AND not to contribute to it.
I’m not much of a label-user (no, it’s all those OTHER people out there), so this wasn’t a particularly hard challenge, nothing near so difficult as giving up snacking, for example. Still, there were a few times I caught myself. It was good for me to see that. Also, as the weeks went along and I encountered labels in what I was reading or hearing, I found myself stopping and pondering, “Now how would I have reworded that?”
I was waiting for Easter to pass to mention this. Now you know the truth. I tend to hold things close before sharing them. I’m one of THOSE PEOPLE.