After getting a haircut on a rainy day, I walked back to my car parked on a Ballard side street, started the car to get the defroster going, checked my cell phone for messages, only to experience a terrible shock when hearing a horrid thump. Across the street from me, an elderly man had smashed his bicycle into a curb, flew over the handle bars and ended up laying face down on the sidewalk. He was NOT moving! From my black leather interior luxuriated with Bose surround sound, I panned the scene to see who was going to help this old guy, only to realize that person was me. Running over, afraid he was seriously injured, I was greatly relieved to find him squirming and moaning. The red stained stocking cap revealed he had hit his forehead and there was an accompanying stream of blood flowing from his nose. Even though he kept saying, “I’m all right, it’s was no big deal, Man” it figured that since it looked like he had been drinking all afternoon, he wasn’t feeling much pain. Making it quite clear that he did not NEED my help, I did not know what to do. So I simply offered him my handkerchief which he slowly accepted to remove the blood from his face. In turn, he smiled and gave me a fist bump, calling me “Brother,” and for a moment we just sat there united in our humanity, grateful to be alive. I don’t know if he remembers me or not but the image of his fist bump keeps playing over and over in my mind. Most of us don’t want advice, or pity, or someone to fix our problems, we just want someone to care for us and bear witness to our lives.
I In these times of economic uncertainty, where people are more apt to lose their tempers, instigate some kind of road rage, or just become more self centered in their urge to survive, compassion is often tossed to the side. Instead we often hear reactions to the slights we receive; how stupid someone was, how someone has “done us wrong” and the ensuring nasty little gossip that we feel will make us look superior or smarter than the morons who surround us. When irritability increases, charitable donations recede, and food banks become empty. Whoa! Is this the way we way we really want to live? Why not make another New Year’s resolution, allowing compassion to be the one gift we will give to each other every day?
Compassion can be given to street people, who have stories beyond any assumptions we may have about their lives, or ragged clothes. Compassion can be given each day to our friends and co workers who disappoint us, and to our partners and spouses who at times fail to love us in the way WE feel we most deserve. Compassion is the principle each parent desires to install into their children when they screw up, and act stupid, because it also helps us recognize that everyone makes mistakes, betrays a trust, tells a ‘white’ lie, or avoids the truth at times, especially when we feel threatened. Living with compassion in our homes and our work places is what helps us get along and adds to our purpose in living; it chooses to remember that good can outweigh the bad in a strained relationship if we look for it. Because Compassion is the core of all true spirituality, when we put it into practice, we remind ourselves that we are enough, our core is good, and that money or position in life is not what we am really all about.
Come to think about it, when life gets messy, Compassion will always encourage us to pull out the white handkerchief of peace.