Today’s blog is part cathartic and part an attempt to ease the gentle hearts that I encounter every day. In a world that can be tragically uncomfortable I wanted to take a moment to recognize those that try to soothe it. Bless your soft and tender souls for trying to light the many dark corners.
`I can clearly recall thinking that if I had tried harder that she may have remembered my kindness ` Tania
She’d always be the last one to get to her desk; the impatient students would shove past her, the condescending would glance at her as if she were an inconvenience; an obstacle in their path. She wore thick glasses and carried an odor of stale urine as firmly attached to her body as the steel crutches that were attached like bracelets to her wrists. I think it may have been polio perhaps, but will never know for certain I suppose. I found her one day, not so long ago now and upon reaching out in my excitement of seeing her grown and a seemingly happy adult; felt slightly wounded as she brushed me off like a piece of lint on her sweater. I can clearly recall thinking that if I had tried harder that she may have remembered my kindness.
I would run ahead of her as she tried to reach the bathroom before her bladder released into the telltale darkened stain on the back of her jeans. Her best efforts at speed were only slowed by the non compliance of two feet that would be dragged behind the frantic clicking of the crutches that hung from both forearms. She rarely to never would make it and the remaining hours of the school day would be spent sitting in the dampness that shared its pungency with a room full of student nostrils. They would pick on her while I did my best to make her feel that she was not unusual. And I remember wondering if I could have done better back then… that perhaps she may have recalled that I tried to be gentle.
Or perhaps the insults and the cruelty of others overshadowed the softness. And if that is true, then my heart still wants to fix it despite the passage of decades.
It’s my natural way to be gentle. I struggle to understand anything less than a desire to be kind. I cannot comprehend cruelty, or intentions that may be less than loving. I will never find comfort in stepping on other humans to get to my destination. I would much rather join those on the ground to help ease the burden of the weight of those that do so.
Certainly I am no saint and have followed selfish paths in the moments that I feel unsupported. We are human of course, and not one of us balanced perfectly. I can dive into bursts of anger as quickly as I can dissolve into tears. I can hide the bag of Oreo’s just as well as the next person simply because I believe I deserve the sweetness. We have all shared of the discomforts that can manifest into human nature.
However…when all is said and done…my defining nature is to be gentle. To not step on others to gain my rewards.
It is this characteristic that will find me continuing to want to soothe the way forward despite having felt the weight of such feet press into my spine time and time again. I say this without complaint but a simple yet new understanding that in this gentleness is my greatest strength. Empathy is an unforgiving journey and not for the faint of heart. Empathy requires an ability to unbend a spine that is bruised, sometimes broken and unfurl it to standing without sharing the pain.
I wondered for a moment if I was practicing true empathy in questioning why this woman did not remember my kindness. It burned ever so slightly for a minute or two to feel that I hadn’t done something good enough to be remembered. And I had to stop and wonder if I was battling the EGO or punishing my heart for not being enough when she needed it.
Or if, perhaps, I was understanding her from the value of being different than most. And in doing so I could feel how the discomforts might overshadow the kindness; and better understand my overwhelming desire to make it go away for her.
Which leads me to question something very obvious.
Are the gentle trying to heal the world because in doing so they heal themselves?
Life offers no easy answers. But it does offer us the opportunity to ask the questions.
And I love questions.
Don’t stop that. Your gentleness. One day it will be remembered first.
Love love and more love.
Be soft to you first. And then share.