Lessons in Compassionate Living
"I have learned silence from the
talkative, tolerance from the
intolerant and kindness from the
unkind. I should not be ungrateful
to those teachers."
Khalil Gibran: Sand and Foam (1926)
What a beautiful piece of a poem. This really speaks to me as I've come to realize the extent of my arrogance. My arrogance at work? I want to add to that poem, with these:
I have become educated from the ignorant, gentle from the cruel, sympathetic from the unsympathetic.
And I have learned humility from those who are arrogant. I do that daily.
Have any of us who have entered into fertility treatment, seeing that infertility was knocking at our door, after experiencing month after month of no conception, not heard unkind, ignorant or unsympathetic comments, even from those who love us?
Well meaning, perhaps. I need to learn tolerance for others who suffer from as a high a level of arrogance as myself. So perhaps those who know better what God or the Universe wants are teaching us humility when they tell us of God's plans for our becoming a parent. Or not becoming a parent.
Infertility Education Through the Journey
I did learn about pain, kindness, ignorance and cruelty through my infertility journey. I heard comments that fell into all of those categories over and over again. You know what they are, you hear them too. Just a few examples: relax, you'll get pregnant; maybe it's not meant to be; it's not cancer, why are you so upset?; you want kids? Take mine!; and so many more.
During my infertility education, I learned over and over again. To be tolerant when I didn't feel it, because my understanding didn't necessarily extend large enough yet. To educate myself when I didn't understand something or find someone more educated than myself and listen carefully to them or simply accept that it was out of my realm of understanding. I learned that pain is pain whether the details of the pain made sense to me or not.
Pain is pain. I learned to understand and recognize pain when I heard it, saw it, felt it, even smelled it.
Pain deserves kindness, tolerance, sympathy, compassion and love.
The pain from infertility is no different than any other pain. We who are infertile, need to also recognize that. We do not own the rights to pain. Many others feel pain also, for a myriad of reasons, much of which we have no personal experience with.
We learn from pain. Expand your understanding, sympathy, education, kindness and humility. Express it to someone else who is in pain and you may find your own pain receed just the smallest amount.
We all have so much to learn about pain. Me, I have a lot to learn about arrogance as well. I do assume I know better and more. I learn daily from others what I don't know.
With whom can you share compassion and kindness today?
Ever have a weekend where you were happy to go back to work on Monday? Ever have a weekend where you needed a rest after it? Doesn't that happen over and over again with infertility and fertility treatment? That the stress of relaxing while waiting becomes overwehelming?
Ever wonder what it is we are doing when we pack our "down" time so thoroughly that we need time off after our time off?
If our down time, our time to relax, is so over scheduled, even with fun, fabulous things, when do we actually relax?
I was speaking to someone today who described himself as a person who found it impossible to sit. That he always had to do, that sitting around felt like a waste of time to him. The fact that he was doing just that, while having a conversation with me, was something I didn’t point out to him. Maybe he felt like the conversation was a waste of time, that he should have found something to do instead or maybe he didn’t realize what exactly he was doing.
Maybe it just comes down to mindfulness. Loosely translated, doing things mindfully. Or thoughtfully, with thought. Not being on auto pilot, moving from one thing to the next.
The perfect example is rushing to a yoga class. I’ve done it. Most people I know who regularly go to class have done it occasionally. Rushed to class. Rushed to class to relax. I once went to a yoga class in Los Angeles while I was there on business. I was three minutes late because of the famous LA traffic. The door was locked. No class for me. I was dumbfounded.
Rushing to relax. Getting locked out of a chance to relax because of traffic. There is some karmic message here.
To quote Oprah here, here’s what I know for sure.
I will never lock you out of class, no matter how late you are. I will always greet you with a smile and do everything I can to make you feel welcome and. We will work together to make sure that rushing to relax does actually result in you feeling relaxed.
Meanwhile, I’m going to extend that sense of forgiveness to myself. Maybe do less. Maybe be late once in a while without feeling panicked about it.
Being mindful. The message for the week.