The way my empathy (and maybe yours) expresses itself is through the physical. I get really calm around people who are nervous. My voice gets deeper and I make more eye contact than I’d normally offer. It makes me really good in a crisis.
But it goes further than that. When I hear someone in distress or see someone inflicting physical pain, even something as simple as taking blood at a clinic, I get a sharp and lasting pain across the lowest part of my back. I’m pretty good with boundaries, but the physical pain sometimes requires time to wear off. This is a pain I only ever experience when something is happening to someone else. At least, it registers in my lower back. Is pain even real or do we say what it really is…synapses and electrical currents that are mere hallucinations interpreted as messages by our conscious mind?
Anyway, I talked about this with the acupuncturist last week. She said, “Of course you have this. This is called Atlas pain. Do you know why?”
Socratic method finally working in my favor (no thanks to law school).
“Because he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders?”
“Close your eyes and picture him. Where does he carry the world?”
I thought back to the evening of December 5th when I walked past Rockefeller Center. His legs. They were so big. Strong. From leg day. The globe…not on his shoulders, but on his back.
“On his back.”
“Yes. You already knew.”
The whole conversation went on like this for over an hour.
Mr. Rogers said to look for the helpers. They’re everywhere. Helpers, spirit guides, angels. So many words for the same thing. Words limit and divide us into columns. Get beyond the words. The forces of good are all around us if we are only willing to look and to listen instead of pretending to know. Be humble before their wonder and you will find yourself in the presence of grace. I can’t put it any plainer than that. ❤️
One last lecture for the day, and this is more my meditation for the day so I’m sharing it.
Having compassion for good, like-minded people is easy. It’s low hanging fruit, frankly.
Having compassion for people you disagree with, who are mean, who are selfish, who would not help you if given the opportunity…that is the challenge.
You don’t gotta like them or support them or endorse them in any way. And no, you shouldn’t t be friends with people who have despicable opinions. But you must strengthen your forces to be compassionate towards them. They did not come into this existence fully formed as bad people. They suffer and, for whatever reason, they do wrong.
Our place is not to stand on high and judge. Our place is to correct karmic wrongs and prevent future ones by exercising compassion. Not idiotic compassion. Learn the lesson, get smarter, protect yourself, and give in every way you can.
If it be the season of Jesus, let us remember that his incarnation was to be borne to a humble woman and her husband. To live as a carpenter and a fisher of men. To remember that he was given to this world to save men (and all us other folk) from our sins. To send us the message that we are commanded to love God above all others and our neighbors as ourselves. And to tell us about the great set of steak knives we get for being cool, otherwise known as the eight Beatitudes from his Greatest Hits, the Sermon on the Mount:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
This is the kind of shit I think about a lot…when I’m not obsessing over Mark Ronson or listening to rock ‘n roll. Feel free, as with every other post, to ignore.