Monday’s Meditation: On What We Have In Common, And Compassion
People’s stuff tells stories.
Buried away in boxes, tucked away in drawers, hanging quietly in closets, these things reveal hidden secrets; within them are tales of lives once lived, of lives that never will come to be, of shame and guilt and sadness. They are the presence and proof of the internal strife that has been being waged.
When you are a person whose job it is to go through people’s stuff, you inadvertently become the steward of a thousand and more such secrets.
I am privy to people’s innermost worlds; access to belongings is on par with access with one’s internal organs, you see. I daily sort through the most intimate details about people–I handle papers with financial and otherwise sensitive information. I move around emotions contained in baby clothes and touch the relics of habits yet-unshaken. I see people’s whole worlds, and all the things that are extensions of their being.
This blog is so much the culmination of experience-affirmed subject matter. I am constantly involved in the process of digesting knowledge acquired through client work, filtering out the private matters, and presenting it to you in a broader context: clients all seem to struggle with organizing kitchen utensils, and so I ascertain that the majority must find themselves similarly challenged, and compose a piece on the subject.
And here is another subject that my work teaches me:
every single person has issues with which they’re struggling. Did you hear me?
Every single person you meet, no matter how shiny, or perfect, or composed they might appear, possesses areas of personal hardship that they’re working hard to not only overcome, but, in the interim, to hide away from the rest of the world. What people look like, how successful they are in business, how occupied their time, how large their home, how advanced in age, how cheery their demeanor–none of these are in any way necessarily predictive of a person’s emotional state.
It’s always funny to me how we’re quick to compare ourselves at the level of external appearances, and slower to remember to unite ourselves at the level of human-ness, that is, the level at which each and every one of us is just another perfectly flawed being who, by living, is engaged in the attempt to figure it all out, to be understood, and to feel loved.
Well, I’m telling you right now, if my client base is any indication, which I believe strongly that it is, in this respect, we are one and the same.
It is for this reason that the most important thing we can ever do as denizens of this planet is to care for our fellow beings, knowing they may be in more pain than they let on. When dealing with anyone, we must ask ourselves:
1. Have I done all I can to understand them, and to make them feel understood?
2. Have I shown them loving kindness?
This is our primary purpose in life. Every other job is secondary, and if you’ve been operating otherwise, I’m sorry to tell you, you’re doing it wrong.
If you haven’t been acting in such a way, begin doing so now.
If you’re wondering who to start with, make it the next person you meet.
If you’re unsure how exactly to go about it, actually listen, repeat back and affirm what you’ve heard, internally salute the goodness inside each person, and be kind.
Do that with each and every person with whom you come into contact, and you will have reached the pinnacle of earthly success.
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