I had a run of bad dreams last night. My wife woke up crying from one of hers, too. I don’t know if the stress of the day got to us, or if we ate something funny from the noodle shop. Whatever the reason, I think we’ll both need a nap today.
But among the bad dream things, I was making a speech to a room full of writerly types, and I thought I’d share the essence of it, because it’s very much on my mind today. I was talking about love and compassion…
Love can make you feel like there’s nothing you can’t do. It can make you jump out of bed in the morning, ready to face the day. It can also break you, and leave you thinking you have nothing left, that you gave everything. It can be beautiful, and it can be dark. It can be both. It can be the thing you live for, or the thing you think you’ll never find. Or the thing you’ll never take a chance on again.
But if we stop to consider a synonym for love, another child of Cupid’s that sometimes hangs out and chats philosophically about the crazy humans, we can talk about compassion.
The compassion that comes with stopping not just to drop a coin into the homeless person’s hand, but to make eye contact, to exchange a kind word or two. To be nice to the kid driving you crazy because you know under that bravado is the kind of fear that eats you alive. The compassion for the work collegue that’s falling behind because life is spinning out of control. The compassion for yourself, when you’re feeling beat down and overwhelmed, so you don’t beat yourself up, but rather treat yourself like you would that collegue. It takes a second, a few seconds, an awareness that life isn’t perfect and it gets messy and we’re so isolated in our jobs and cars and houses and belief systems, that we sometimes forget to stop and simply be kind. Compassion is a gentle, all inclusive form of love that we can all practice, no matter where we stand with Cupid at the moment.
I think dream me was trying to tell me something, and I’m going to spend time contemplating what she was talking about.