May 9, 2014 § 3 Comments
Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. – Pema Chodron
Thank you so much for all of your comments about what self-care means to you. I learned more from your comments than from any self-help book. If you haven’t read them, you can find them here.
I am bolting in a different and good kind of way today and am in Chicago where I am meeting two of my oldest and dearest friends, both of whom live in the chilly Midwest. Since it’s already been in the 90’s in North Carolina, I have been surprised by the trees here, with their small and early leaves. As the cab left the airport and lurched into traffic, the new green here slayed me for a moment with its lesson of vulnerability that lately, seems to be at the heart of everything.
There is only one way to fly out of Jacksonville, North Carolina, and it is on the tiniest of airplanes. Today it was me and about one hundred Marines, all of us walking across the tarmac and squinting our eyes against the wind of the engines. Once I was on board in my miniature seat, it was clear that there was a mix-up with some tickets, as two people were claiming a single seat as their own. The Marine next to me calmly stood up (ducking his head) and said, “Why don’t you move, sir,” to the man who had taken someone’s seat because someone else was in his. When the man ignored him, the Marine tapped him on the shoulder, his tattooed bicep just inches from my face. “Sir, it started with you, why don’t you go back to your seat and let’s figure this out.”
The man in the black suit looked startled and then annoyed and then after the Marine calmly blinked at him, the man in the suit walked back to his seat. The Marine reminded me of my husband, of the way he can diffuse a situation without raising his voice, which is a special kind of power in this world.
“Nice work,” I said to the Marine next to me and he smiled.
“Just sorting out problems,” he said, as if he did this every day, which he probably does. He held my gaze in a way that unnerved me. Usually I face forward in airplanes. When flying, I do not make eye contact with anyone. Ever. And this sudden intimacy with a stranger was both unsettling and comforting. He had the same color eyes as me and for an instant, I wondered if we had met previously. And then, I realized that what I was experiencing was simply the recognition of our shared human contract, both of us alive to do something in the world.
This is the same feeling I had as I read your comments on what self-care means to you. Although I have not met most of you in person, I had the feeling that there is something deeply known in each of you, something deeply familiar and comforting and shared.
I will announce the winner of the giveaway on Mother’s Day.
Love the story of the Marine. Enjoy your special time together with old friends; those are the best of times, aren’t they?
My grateful appreciation to the Marine for serving; how wonderful it would be to have a few million more like him!
This is such a beautiful story!
I recently had a similar connection with an older woman on a streetcar ride here in Portland, where they had live jazz music on board. We would have never had this moment without the music, since everyone always minds their own business on the streetcar. That night everyone was tuned into one another, and it made a world of difference. Super neat!