August 25, 2015

How I Find Compassion in the Chaos.

natural love

The other day, while walking to Whole Foods to score some green juice and dried okra, I was nearly struck by a car.

There I was, in a crosswalk, trying to get from one side of the street to the other and some dude in a car came to a screeching halt about twenty-four inches from the body that is my soul’s vessel.

I froze and he proceeded to scream profanities while shoving his fist into the horn of his vehicle. I didn’t know what to do, so I calmly walked on. He called me a bitch and the “c” word, then sped away.

A few minutes later, I was ordering my juice in the market, my hands trembling. I walked around the produce area, breathing in I held an avocado, breathing out, I put it down. Inhaling, I walked over to the organic lemons, breathing out, I went over to the kale. The little rain-like sprayers started misting the greens and I just stood there, letting it hit my hands, my arms, my face.

I paid for my juice and walked around the store in a daze. I began to think about the many intense moments I’d experienced in the past few days, weeks, months and was immediately overwhelmed. I couldn’t get a grip and I felt weak, small and sad. My palms got hot and wet, my throat and mouth felt dry.

I bought some stress relieving herbs and walked home, slowly.

While walking along the Chicago river recently, some men in a boat loaded with girls in bikinis holding red plastic cups pulled up to the area where I was sitting with some other water-gazers.

There was a handsome couple—probably in their early fifties—sitting nearby.

One of the overgrown frat-boys on the boat shouted to the woman “hey, blondie, nice rack!” and wouldn’t let up. He kept bleating crude remarks directed at her; it was pretty awful.

The couple looked around, stood up, held hands and hurried away.

Last month, while reading poolside at a hotel while on a work-related trip, a group of late forty something men sent a scout over to tell me to smile. I asked why and he said that I looked like I’d be more fun if I did.

A few weeks later, a group of men in a bachelor party repeatedly “accidentally” bumped into me while waiting for the elevator at a hotel in Las Vegas. Two of them tried to touch my rear end, but I pressed myself against a wall to avoid contact.

One night, while selling merch for a touring musical, a drunken patron in the lobby shouted at me and shoved a finger in may face. When I asked him to stop, he told me to shut up.

When I waved the security guards over to help me, they pretended not to see me. I later asked why they hadn’t come over when I frantically waived at them. They replied that the patron was a season ticket holder, and that they didn’t want to lose their jobs by pissing him off.

I share these stories not for pity; we all have our trials and tribulations, our bumps in the road. I’m sharing them because I have been able, only recently, to find compassion amid the chaos, cruelty, harshness.

Did these things make me sad? Of course they did. Did I want to cry and scream? F*ck, yes, and maybe I did.

But after that was done, my eyes swollen from burning hot, fat tears of disappointment, I got quiet. I regrouped and thought of the buddhist, hindu and other teachers who have helped me.

I breathe in, I breathe out. I say “peace begins with me,” and all I need to do is return to my breath, my body, if I let it all get to me.

If I get angry and reactive, I increase our collective suffering and that is not the path I wish to follow.

Thanks especially to the teachings of Pema Chödrön and Thich Naht Hanh, I keep returning to my breath. I find the freshness in each moment. I forgive and give thanks and do not look to increase anyone’s suffering, even if they cause me to suffer. I look up and see the beautiful sky above, I look down and see the fresh grass and beautiful soil.

I choose compassion, I choose love, I choose to breathe in, breathe out.

How do you find compassion in the chaos? Please share your techniques in the comments below.



A different take on this topic: 

F*ck Love & Light: Acknowledging Our Anger.


Author: Anna Maria Giambanco

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: Foundry/pixabay


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