Listen to Your Lyrics

I was sitting in a giant van without seat belts barreling down the back roads of Thailand in the torrential rain. The third row back, I had my ear phones tightly in listening to Mumford and Sons repeatedly. During my (approximately) twelfth time listening to the song ‘Sigh No More,’ it dawned upon me that most of the lyrics were taken from the Shakespearean play ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’

The van suddenly stops. Visibility is zero outside due to the unimaginable downpour. I remove one headphone. The van door slides open. We are invited to run across a stream and into a Buddhist temple that we cannot even see. No one moves. In my other headphone the line  reminds me, ‘Oh, man is a giddy thing!’

Taking out the headphone, I bolt out the open door into the rain.

Inside it is clear that the temple is built in a circular design with a central staircase, going up and up. More people from the van arrive. We instantly start running up the stairs into the mysterious. At the end of the stairwell is a ladder. We climb the ladder, our bare feet still slippery and wet. At the top is a Buddha and open doors in all directions. We are so high now that we can see the rain engulfing the Thai countryside.

We all start laughing. Man is indeed a giddy thing.

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Idiot Compassion

This is my first post in a while. Getting bogged down in the minutia of daily life is still something I struggle with–as I think most of us do.

Driving down Lincoln Ave. in Chicago on a hot summer day, I couldn’t help thinking to myself, “What is wrong with people today? Why are you just walking out into the middle of traffic? Can you not find your turn signal/gas pedal/steering wheel? Why is the guy behind me so close I can see the chicken pox scar from when he was in 3rd grade?”  Sigh. Cha cha.

I only got more frustrated when I went into a shop, you know the one–where the employees never look you in the eye and can’t seem to acknowledge that you exist. Sigh. Cha cha.

So, when I got home I looked up Pema Chodron’s website. She has a short explanation on ‘Idiot Compassion,’ and I find I suddenly feel more calm. I realize that I have been practicing ‘Idiot Compassion’ on a very small level today.  This is a reminder to me that self care is not always physical, although calming stress can help the physical.

The name ‘Idiot Compassion’ does not really describe our ability to be compassionate toward those who we perceive to be idiots. Rather, it is practicing compassion toward ourselves by leaving certain situations behind. It is getting rid of the enabling sort of pseudo compassion we feel toward a person or situation: the idiot kind of compassion.

So, I won’t be shopping at that store anymore, and I will probably be taking public transit more. This translates to damaging relationships, friendships, and beyond.  This speaks to that friendship you have–you know the one where you feel you give 110% and get zilch.  The co-worker you work alongside that wants you to conspire in his/her negative gossip. So, practice some compassion for yourself and lose the ‘idiot’ part by setting clear boundaries for yourself.

Tell your friend who borrows your books only to return them in terrible condition why you won’t be lending to him/her anymore. Tell your gossipy co-worker that negative gossip is something you don’t want to engage in anymore. Being an advocate for yourself can only inspire others to treat you, and perhaps themselves, a little better. This does not necessarily apply to city traffic, however.