Comfort and Compassion

This is not my first blog, but I have deleted the others.  I tried a lot of approaches to my writing over the years, but they never fit for long.  Though I have not written consistently since deciding to simply give my blog my own name, it feels right.  I am not limited to a topic nor bound by any other construct.  Here, I am just me, where ever and how ever I find myself in a given moment.  That’s pretty real, and it works for me.

I have observed that the more real, the more raw, the more honest I am, the wider the distance between most others and me becomes.  This is true in person as it is online; people back away when your sharing touches a little too close to their own discomfort.  People seem to be repelled by my honest displays of emotion, or my recounting of painful events, or the openness with which I will sometimes share intimate details of my life and experiences.  I get that; it’s hard to confront pain without trying to fix it, and the gritty details make things all too real.   This is the crux of the human condition – we want to fix the pain, to make it go away.  Rarely can we fix our pain, let alone someone else’s.  Whatever the remedy, it is always individual, and always an inside job.

Though most folks push back when confronted with another’s pain, such intimacy is also what draws some people nearer to us, creating lasting bonds.  I am not open in these ways because I seek pity or consolation or solutions from others.  My openness is an act of reconciling my own state of being with the world; frankly, it’s not about you.  It is, however, sometimes inspired by a desire to help a fellow human being who is suffering.  Who among us does not know suffering?  Who among us does not feel reassured when we hear that someone else has suffered in a similar way and survived or even thrived?  CompassionSimply acknowledging someone else’s pain is a magical salve all its own.  I hope that my words are occasionally salve for another’s wounds.

This sort of sharing of one’s experience is the essence of compassion.  Compassion does not seek to influence someone to think or behave in a certain way; those are acts of control or manipulation.  Nor is compassion an agreement or endorsement of another’s circumstance or outlook.  Rather, compassion is an attempt to comfort another person, a show of solidarity, a gesture that says, “you are not alone.”  When, by being open, we can both work something out in ourselves and offer hope to others, that is the pinnacle of compassion.  I hope that the things I share here serve to comfort others as much as the act of sharing them comforts me.

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