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.