I lose my shit if someone says something to me that isn’t true, or even if it is true and I’m not ready to hear it. I lose my shit if I’m stuck in traffic when I’m in a hurry, and it seems I’m always in a hurry. I lose my shit if I’m having a bad day and someone or something causes me a slight inconvenience. I lose my shit because I am constantly losing my shit. Maybe I don’t meditate enough, I think sometimes. Maybe, I don’t pray enough. Maybe I am not looking deeply enough at all my unresolved issues. Maybe I feel this way because I’m off my path. Yeah, that must be it. I’ll do better next time when I am more rested, more calm, I think as I’m angrily yelling at the dog to get off my practice mat.
Some of the kindest, most compassionate people I know personally, don’t meditate, don’t do yoga or have a practice of any kind, and some of them do. All of them do have a deep willingness to love, to serve, to show up as their best every single damn day, even when they are hurting. That’s what REAL YOGA TEACHERS TEACH anyway. The seeming ordinary people though, almost all of them are mothers/fathers. A few are fierce warriors + teachers. All of whom from their life battles know the sorrow of disconnection and they go above and beyond to love, to be there for anyone who needs a helping hand. So that’s the common thread I find in people who are kind: they have all gone through some inner and outer hardship so unimaginable to anyone who has not experienced it, that it hurts too much to be unkind. They exude a kind of grace. Somehow, they have transformed their pain into pure light and wisdom.
I see this deeply exemplified by my mother. I asked her once why she didn’t say anything back to her younger sister during an argument and she replied because that’s my sister, if I hurt her feelings, it hurts mine too. This is really heartening to me, and actually also very troublesome, if I think on it deeply. Troublesome because I am so far from that, and I used to think, I’ve done a fair amount of self-work. Maybe that is true, but I certainly have a long way to go to be a kind-loving person.
No amount of podcast/books, retreats or plant medicine or self-care practice can replace being a loving person. All those things are nice enhancements to our lives, but they can’t help you be a good person. That has to come from within. We have to have a burning desire within to be kind over being mean when we are in a difficult situation. We have to choose love over hate when we are triggered. Over and over. We have to CARE, about what is happening around us and we HAVE TO GET OVER OUR SELF. Chasing “being happy” is only the first step. It’s a little taste on the spiritual path to get us going. The work after that is what really fulfills us. It’s not true that we can only serve others when we are happy, that’s a new age darkenment trap. We are never going to be 100% happy all the time, it’s impossible. We can however, choose to show up and serve anytime. That’s the lesson I’ve learned from watching some of the kindest people I know.
Cover photo taken by my friend Wayne Dace.