Empathy

I was sooooo judgemental a little while ago when I read some other like-minded blogs with a similar mission. The reason being, the “deeds” or services they were rendering were not what I had in mind.

Listening to your girlfriend after she had a hard day? That’s one of the requirements of being in an intimate relationship dude, there’s no good “deed” about that.

Bringing apple cider to a family holiday gathering? That’s a contribution/hostess gift to say ‘thank you’ for all the hostess’ hard work cleaning the house, grocery shopping, cooking and presenting a beautiful home and meal.

Then in a recent post I mentioned how it’s not service, or really helpful, if it doesn’t take effort; if it isn’t somewhat inconvenient. At first I took issue with online giving. I’m still struggling with it quite frankly, but that may be my own inner task-master/inner critic breakin’ a sweat still – after all these years – trying’ to break my spirit.

Online giving takes my TIME, to find references for organizations that move me or intrigue me, to read about them more thoroughly, to write a comment, sign an online petition, DONATE MY MONEY…that all requires my valuable, precious time. We all know how long it takes to participate in ANYTHING, even altruism, on the internet. Everyone requires you sign up, sign in, commit, partially commit, provide your DNA strand, etc.

The reason I now get the “smile at everyone you meet and make eye contact with today” kind of “deeds” as well as all of the above, is after pursuing the challenge myself, I have acquiesced (again!) that being OTHER CENTERED, anonymously, creatively and uniquely, EVERY DAY is FREAKIN’ difficult!

And ILLUMINATING (also again!).

What has been illuminated for me are three awarenesses (am I repeating myself? learning the same lesson over and over?):

1) Any – and I do mean ANY – intentional, loving and/or helpful energy put forth toward OTHER humans is nourishment of our kind and of our collective experience. No smile, no contrary action (boyfriend listening instead of trying to “fix” distraught girlfriend, let’s say), no homemade goodie or special out of the way treat, no encouraging comment, signature, dollars donated, no amount of REPETITIVE “do-gooding” is wasted.

It doesn’t have to be especially creative or accompanied by a signature in blood or require me, personally, to denounce all my worldly possessions or abandon my current responsibilities or acts of love and service within my current relationships.

2) Which brings about my second awareness. While reviewing – granted, on the fly and often late at night – what I can for this blog’s challenge and WHEN – based on my own crazy motherhood-aspiring-writer-and-spiritual-seeker-wife schedule – I see very clearly what I am ALREADY doing to be loving and helpful to those I DO know and that are aware of what and when I am giving to them. For example:

  • I have hosted a fellow mom’s boy all day and evening when she needed a place for him to be tucked away safely while she moved into a new home rented as a result of a devastating house fire.
  • I have attended a wedding dress appointment with a young woman I’d really like to get to know better since I am still without a tribe or any close, local friends. Likewise she is from Mexico and has been slow in developing any intimate friendships.
  • I have read and consulted, day after day, week after week, for months now, relentlessly, in the hopes of better assisting him through this period of emotional unrest.
  • I have made a point that my daughter gets special time (though I never feel like I’m doing it good enough; i.e. should play MORE with her – think it’s a jealous reaction anytime her and the housekeeper do something fun and different from what I have done with her. It’s petty and childish I know).
  • I have bought thoughtful gifts,
  • taken photos for my sons school for the yearbook,
  • purchased gas cards for a struggling friend and mailed them.

The list is LONGer still and mundane but constant and pervasive.

I am trying desperately to nurture relationships by simply participating MORE, replying MORE, initiating contact and “how are you?” MORE. Not because I think I’m so special or because I think that these other people think I am so special.

I’m lonely. And I remembered what I’d heard ages ago, be the kind of friend you want to attract and have.

Which requires me to take the time to reach out and risk unexpected returns on my investment.

I’m working on being a better friend, a stronger member of my community, and not by way of grand stand or show. Just doing what I really am well suited for: suiting up and showing up for people without judgement, just with humor, help and love.

3) The challenge I have launched is not perfect; will not be, not unless I decide to start over and sacrifice other areas of importance that require my time and energy. Neither of those options is agreeable to me. Having accepted it’s imperfection while continuing to pursue it  with verve, I am a humbled do-gooder amongst do-gooders.

I MUST CONFESS and surrender to the adage, “You can so do it all, just NOT all at the same time”.

My endeavors are of the highest order and spirit, to raise two compassionate, considerate, brave, creative, honorable human beings, to nurture and grow myself as a spiritual being and artist, to nurture and grow my marriage, to nurture and grow my “tribe”, a community of women, some peers, some I may mentor, some I serve as they mentor me. Whatever I can do outside of that is gravy, or frosting depending on your preference.

The challenge itself is molding me into a better human being amongst all you other beings. It just keeps returning to that. Not focusing on what is NOT getting done but what IS.

And then, NOT letting up.  🙂

 

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