Recently, an event has tested my faith in compassion, empathy, and kindness as tools of reconciliation and healing. I will not go into details other than to say that it is perhaps the greatest challenge of my life, with impossibly high stakes.
Like most people, my initial reaction during particularly trying times runs to the “reaction” emotions of anger, fear, and despair as I struggle to control the hamster wheel looping of negative narrative possibilities that try to run 24/7 in my brain.
It is difficult beyond description to maintain detached responsiveness when 59-years of society’s encouraged inculturation of reaction acts as a well-intentioned centurion, guarding the higher functions of my mind in nature’s misguided physicality of instinct.
But being a higher primate comes with advantages as well as challenges, with the ability to reference experience perhaps our most valuable tools. I know that now more than ever is the perfect time for kindness.
Counter to what my “fight or flight” physical body tells me, deep in my soul, I know that the only available extrication from the spiraling horrors of impotent agony is to act counter to conventional wisdom, to operate opposite to what society urges as a “normal” response. The hell with normal.
So, I go downstairs to my weapon of compassion, my writing, fully aware that I am but one among billions struggling to survive life’s trials of omission. Being kind in the face of mortal attack offers the highest alchemical reaction, that of human empathy.
Today, with renewed emphasis of will, I will seek to help those encountering life’s brutal countenance of reason, soul quickened to the task of providing comfort to the faceless troubled reaction to existential pain.