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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A little compassion

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there." ~Rumi 

The Rumi quote above was one shared with us at the yoga class in the park that I do every Saturday morning. It is interesting how certain quotes speak to us at particular times. When my yoga teacher shared this with us it did not really resonate with me at all. But tonight the words came back to me, and they seemed perfect for this blog entry. I am practicing compassion tonight, you see. Compassion for myself, that is. It has been an incredibly hard day. I still do not have full time work after all my hard work to find a job. Establishing myself as a freelance writer is some of the hardest and (thus far) economically unsustainable things I have ever done. No matter how hard I try, I feel like a black sheep in a very white flock here in California. I have reached the farthest limits of my capacity to live with my parents, and I am ready to have a vehicle again so that I do not have to depend on rides or borrow a car every time I need to go somewhere. My Monday was one I am very grateful is over. 

 I reached the end of the day feeling at my wits end, with no brilliant ideas of how to remedy my situation because I do not have the resources to move right now. I even wrote a blog entry (not this one) which I promptly deleted upon completing it because, frankly, who wants to read about another person's struggles when each of us already has so many of our own? Then I read my friend Sharon's blog entry, which is all about what a rough time she is having right now, and how she is dealing with it, and finding ways to practice compassion with herself, and suddenly my black day got ever-so-slightly less bleak. Let me me clear: I do not take pleasure in other people's misfortunes. But I realized that her willingness to be vulnerable to the world and share the hard things she is going through as well as the good things makes her far more easy to relate to. It also reassures me that I am not the only black sheep out here who feels like her life is coming apart at the seams.

We live in a world where the media is always showing us images of happy, beautiful people with flawless skin and designer clothes. Where the only emotions that are acceptable in public are happiness, excitement, joy, enthusiasm, etc. Periods of sadness or loss locked up behind closed doors. But in reality life is about the happy times and the sad times. Every low means there is a another hill ahead, and every hill is followed by a valley. So why did I delete my first blog entry tonight? Why do we censor some of our most profound moments of being human? Why do we pretend that we are doing great when in reality we could really use a good chat with a close friend or to have someone call and cheer us up? Why are periods of sadness or struggle looked down upon as blemishes in our lives--as something we feel we need to hide?

I was visiting with my mother's best friend Cheryl the other day on our seven hour drive down to L.A. I was telling her about my attempts to find work in the United States this year, and how discouraged I am feeling right now. She listened a long time, and when I was done venting, she smiled, and said "I think this is good for you." "What is good for me?" I asked her. "These tough times in your life," she said. I asked her to elaborate, and she said "I've always thought that people who have never experienced real hardship in their lives lack a certain degree of depth that those who have confronted tests and struggled through them seem to have." Cheryl has had many long and hard tests in her life, and is one of the happiest and most optimistic people I know, so any thoughts she has to share on the subject of tests I always listen to carefully.

Reflecting on both Sharon's blog entry and Cheryl's thoughts on the matter has brought me to the conclusion that human beings are vast, beautiful and powerful landscapes which pass through many seasons, and that sharing only some of these landscapes and seasons undermines the resilience of what makes us as human beings so distinct -- our spirit or soul. Tough times are good for the soul. So to glaze over them and only write about the good times gives a false impression of who we are and how we came to be where we are in our lives. When I read other people's blogs I am curious how this person became who they are, with their distinctive qualities and strengths. Knowing that they had to get through hard times to get where they are makes them feel more human -- I can relate to them better as a reader. 

So anyway, getting back to compassion....after reading Sharon's blog post I decided to get away from the job hunting sites that I have been staring at numbly all day long, light some candles, fill the bathtub, pour in some essential oils, and take care of myself a little. Invite my mind to stop spinning endless stories of when and how and where and how much longer, and just inhale the warm air, rest my eyes and breathe. It took a very long time to convince my mind to let go, but when I finally stepped out of the bath tonight I felt about fifty pounds lighter, and after I had rubbed tingly peppermint lotion on my feet I felt even better. It is getting later now and I think maybe time for a hot cup of tea. There is a lovely cool breeze coming in the window.  Being compassionate with myself does not take the tough times away, but they do help me to stay hopeful and positive. How do you treat yourself with compassion?

1 comment:

  1. I treat myself with compassion by not beating myself up over where I am in my life right now. And remarkably it's freed me up to do things that I had stopped myself from doing because I was having these conversations in my head about where I should be. Like, I have acknowledged that I need a job, and given where I am right now and my school schedule, my priority is for a flexible, easy work environment that pays the bills. So I applied for *gasp* retail jobs, and lo and behold I've gotten interviews, and second interviews and hopefully a job at Lululemon (fingers crossed). Today I had my car appraised for sale at Carmax and the appraiser said if I wasn't going to nursing school he's ask me to work there. I laughed politely but as I drove away, I realised there was an opportunity! If Lululemon didn't work out I now had a personal contact at Carmax who I could call and ask about part-time work. Who knows, I may get a discount on a car? So this is how I've started treating myself with compassion: allowing myself to be where I'm at and going from there.

    Thanks so much for publishing this post Ariana. It takes courage to be real. You are wonderful.