Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Gift From the Universe

You never really know when something will come your way that reminds you of yourself. For a while now, I've been upset by something that I could not control. It relates to a situation that happened long enough ago that I was over it, but then something happened that put me right back into the confusion, disappointment, and most of all, anger, that I felt when the situation first happened.

I wrote that post the other day about hate. It was meant to be funny, but it wasn't, really. I was reflecting on the things we lose, but what I needed to actually lose was the attachment to certain parts of something I never really had to begin with.

Then, today, in the Tech Writing class I teach, where my students are getting started working on their "how to" manual, I was looking for a link to "how to manuals." Just to show them some content they could model their own work on. I found this wiki, and especially, the "How to Be Compassionate" how-to. I started looking at it, drawn in by some things I have been forgetting.

Every time I assign this project to my students, I also do it. It's an exercise to remind myself how much work it actually takes, how to actually do it, so that I can judge the students' work fairly & accurately. So I decided that I would do my sample manual based on this guide.

I started looking at graphics, websites. Formatting the "found text" into a manual format. These are all tasks that I have done before, and I have to say I'm a big nerd about these kinds of projects; I love fiddling about with graphics & fonts & white space & page numbers. All the little things that go into this kind of project.

In the meantime, I was also finding quotations about being more compassionate. Practicing acts of kindness. Being more spiritual. Meditating. Keeping one's mental state in a healthy place.

This quotation is important: "Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin" Frederick Buechner. I don't know who Buechner is-- I may have to research that.

However. The point is this. The event that has happened which has made me wallow in my own misery lately is tiny. Insignificant. A blip on the radar of the universe. I was forgetting that, and because of that, as Yoda says "anger turns to hate, hate turns to the dark side." It's a feedback loop and I have decided to practice letting that go. I think I've made a big step in just thinking about it and realizing what an unhealthy mental pattern I had thrown myself into lately.

And when I forget, I'm going to look at the spiffy manual I'm making. Reminding myself that "How To" be compassionate is far far more important than any small place, any small thing, a day in the life. And to live in the somebody's skin who I was so angry with, to think about what must be going on in that world to make such things happen, well. I don't want to be stuck there forever, but I forget that I am a happy person. I am not bitter, nor angry, nor petty. Not normally. And I will not be. I am practicing kindness to myself, first. Then I can practice, til I get it right, on everyone else, too.

This day was truly a gift. Thank you universe. I was forgetting.