“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama
I remember being about 10 years old. I was over at a friend’s house. We were in her room on her bed, giggling, talking about boys and school and 10 year-old stuff. The conversation turned to a second friend. It was pretty benign until we started talking about an aspect of her appearance. As someone who was ridiculed daily, I don’t know why I did this, but I made some stupid remark that our pea brains found to be just hysterical. What I didn’t know was that Friend 1 had stashed Friend 2 under the bed just before I arrived.
When Friend 2 slid out from under that bed, the embarrassment and shame I felt reverberated within every cell of my body. Even now, writing about it, the echo of that sensation makes me cringe. Of course, Friend 1 was simply delighted by our discomfort, and Friend 2 bravely laughed it off. Because when you’re 10 that’s what you do.
But decades later, I wonder if Friend 2 remembers that afternoon; whether or not she recalls that episode, I know that moment put a dent in her self-confidence.
I wish I could say from that moment on I spent the rest of my childhood speaking only golden platitudes about everyone I knew. Nope, though I did develop a habit of peering under the furniture before I opened my yap. And while I did make a concerted attempt to speak kindly, I was still an insecure kid, after all, and at the time I thought being what I perceived as ‘accepted’ was more important than anything else.
I was well into adulthood before I got it together gossip-wise.
*****Disclaimer! ‘got it together’ is a relative term in this musing; I still fall into the trap occasionally but with effort can change the spin of a remark mid-sentence. When that doesn’t work, I sometimes call my own self out in front of whoever I’m talking to, which can be a tad disconcerting to my companion….*****
A friend gave me a mix cd for my birthday that contained songs from one of my all-time favorites, Keb’ Mo’. There was a song that she’d been playing for the Pre-K kids at my school:
“I’m amazing; I’m incredible
I’m a miracle, a dream come true
I’m marvelous; I’m beautiful
So are you.”
Coolest message ever for 4 year-old, 10 year-old, 48 year-old, or 90 year-old kids to learn. Quick! Everybody download the song, and teach it to every 4 year-old you know (you’re welcome, Keb’ Mo’). Maybe you’ll prevent some foolish 10 year-old from hurting their “Friend 2’s” feelings down the road.
“Oh, Robin, how simplistic and idealistic (insert exasperated eye-roll here). ” Yep, it is. Compassion is simple. One Peaceful act will beget hundreds, thousands, who knows how many? I resolve to initiate a Butterfly Effect of practicing compassionate speech. I think I’ll start by teaching my Kindergarten Music classes to sing “Amazing.”
(and Sue? Please accept my apology, 38 years later)
One thought on ““Guess what? So are you.””
Aww man, I cringe just reading this! Funny how these moments always stick with you. I think it has something to do with having tangible evidence that nobody is as good a person sometimes as they’d like to think they are. I’m still having these cringe worthy moments today but am also working on improving. Thanks for the post, again much to think about here!