“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)