by: J Rourke
I’ve been working on compassion. It’s the aim of my spiritual work—to focus on interaction that is healing and care-full. Unfortunately, compassion isn’t my default, and I don’t always get there. But it’s a goal.
An example from work.
She came for her drink 15 minutes after I’d finished it.
“Yes, that’s yours,” I said. “Yup, almond milk … Yeah, I can put it in a to-go cup.”
She asked a few more questions. I offered a few more snappy-direct responses. She left angry. It was not my best moment.
But what would my best moment look like? Is there a “best” for compassion? For truth-telling? Discipline? Peacemaking?
The problem is that when I take time to consider what a best might be, I forget about the reality of my situation. I could have been more compassionate with that customer, but I couldn’t have been less busy. I couldn’t have made her get her drink earlier. I wouldn’t have stopped doing my other work to focus just on her. On the other hand, I could have slowed down just a little. I might have made better eye contact.
So maybe there’s no best. But I know I can work toward better.
Compassion, then, is a goal. And a guidepost. A beacon. A destination that always seems farther away because as I move toward compassion, I’m becoming more aware of what compassion is, about what it means, about how far I still have to travel.
And travel I must, to live is to move. I work at paying attention. At reflection. I’ve chosen a point on the horizon, and I’m walking toward it, knowing the best is not to arrive, but to see the destination and trod on.
In the meantime, I feel a little bit healthier, a little more fun to be with, a bit more capable. I’m even a little more compassionate.