In journalism we have a saying, "content is king." It means good content sells newspapers, boosts page views, and garners subscribers. While I agree "content is king," I think the biggest king of all is compassion. The word "compassion" comes from Middle English via the Latin word compati to sympathize, or com- + pati to bear, suffer. In my mind that means to bear together, to understand where another person is coming from.
Lately, I find compassion is so important because it gives me peace and serenity. When I can postulate why somebody is acting the way they are, I am better able to forgive them, to let whatever it is go. I don't stay angry or resentful; instead I'm able to glide through life like water running off a duck's back — that stuff slides right off. For someone who spent much of her life not at peace, this is a big deal. It's a relief to not keep an emotional scorecard, to fume over how people "should" behave.
Even the Buddha says to fill your mind with compassion.
For instance, last night my taxi driver was laughably bad. He kept mixing up his numbers and directions. "Did the GPS say to turn left on 56th st?" "No," I replied, "65th." "Left or right?" "Left." He wanted to turn down Telegraph when the GPS clearly said Shattuck. (Oh, and yes, those are California street names because I'm back in California!) When we pulled up to my rental, he told me there was a $5 extra fee for crossing the bridge. I'm pretty sure that was a scam but I paid it anyway. I'm not angry at the guy for his possible machinations because if dude is so desperate and fearful about money, how can I possibly be angry at him? Don't get me wrong, I'm going to call the cab company and talk to them about it, but continuing to feel angry about it accomplishes nothing.
Having compassion means I can deal with it and let it go. I'm letting that stuff go! I don't need any more emotional baggage, thankyouverymuch — I have plenty to deal with already. One of the absolute best ways to take the wind out of my sails and help me to forgive, to find compassion for other people, is asking, "Do I remember other people (myself included) are emotionally ill and frequently wrong?" Because they are and I am. Ain't nobody escaping through life unscathed. We are all warriors on this spiritual journey. And let me tell you, the more I forgive and have compassion for other people, the more I have it for myself. The more I'm able to let myself off the hook when I do something dumb or put my foot in my mouth. And ladies and gentlemen, that is a miracle.
I dream of a world where we all have compassion for ourselves and each other. A world where we let go of the things that bother us. A world where we understand where people are coming from. A world where we realize we're all in this together doing the best we can.
Another world is not only possible, it's probable.