Friday, January 03, 2014

These are not my words...

... but I love them. So I wanted to write them out here. They come from a place that has become a wonderful source of inspiration for me: the On Being podcast with Krista Tippett. If you're looking for some soul food, it's a good place to go. Thank you to my friend Tracie for sharing it with me. This particular podcast was an interview with Joan Halifax on "Compassion's Edge States and Caring Better." I enjoyed the whole podcast, but I found this comment from an audience member particularly ah-ha.

"I was really struck by what you were saying about compassion fatigue. In my younger days I was a social worker in domestic violence shelters. I did a lot of leftist political work. And at a certain point realized that I was surrounded by people who were dedicating their life to "no," to fighting against something. And my husband and I had decided to get married, and we sat down and said, "What's our 'yes?' How are we gonna commit to living 'yes' on a daily basis? Because if we stay here, and do this, we will spend our whole life just fighting and saying 'no.'" And I wonder sometimes if part of what people refer to as compassion fatigue is the unwillingness or perhaps fear of doing the hard daily personal work to pay attention in one's intimate relationships and in one's neighbourhood and in one's community ... because that's constant. That never ends. But if all you're thinking about is "I need to do something about that thing out there. That thing that I see on that television. The thing that I read in the newspaper." Instead of "What's happening in this house? What's happening right here? And why don't I start there?" Once that sort of intention and mindfulness becomes almost instinctual, then the tendency to sort of fall into that empathic pit where you feel like you can't get out in response to what's going on in the world lessens because you're building up a capacity to hold complexity."

***

Yes. Starting with the relationships right in front of me. Listening and responding with intention and mindfulness. Building up a capacity to hold complexity. So very yes.

How will I commit to living "yes" on a daily basis this year? How will you?

2 comments:

Erika said...

wow, this is very good advise for the new year. thanks for sharing and thanks for a wonderful conversation today.

James said...

I love that line: "building a capacity to hold complexity." Wow.

Not sure if it relates, but I've been learning lately that "yes" is part of the mystery of creation / God / life / whatever you want to call it. Imagine God saying a divine "Yes." Imagine God focusing inward on our individual humanity, on our needs, on our being. We (and everything good in this world) are (and continue to be) the result.