- We lived at the top of a big hill in Olympia, Washington and when it snowed we’d hear spinning tires well into the night. My father would grab his coat and gloves and tell us to do the same and we’d run outside and push cars up the hill. We did this over and over and over for 30 years.
- My parents’ best friends, Johnnie and Gerdie, lived a few blocks from us. Johnnie got paid on the fifteenth of each month and my Dad got paid the first of each month. They borrowed money from each other every month for decades as money was tight, until finally, both had enough money coming in to support their families.
- Many families in our neighborhood readily shared fruits and vegetables from our gardens, trees, and berry bushes throughout the summer. My brothers fished and we shared what they caught as well.
This all seemed so normal to me growing up. I felt more empathy for others who were struggling because I could recognize their struggle as mine too, and because I had a sense of being in it with others. I heard Marshall Rosenberg once say: "If somebody else in the world is starving, then my need for food is not being met." This resonates so deeply for me now… and I find that in writing this, I feel sad. I’m hungry to live in a world where empathy for one another is the norm — and where we can keep our hearts open when faced with someone else’s (or our own) struggles — rather than hardening ourselves in support of protection and ease.Sometimes other people’s pain is hard to stay open to. Do you find that as well? It’s so tempting to turn away from it out of habit. But when we do that we miss the richness and depth of connection that is possible when we’re fully present to pain — and we miss the opportunity to recognize that their pain is a part of us, too.
So this month, my focus is on EMPATHY — for myself and for others — opening myself to living in deep empathic connection where it’s easiest and where it’s hardest. In doing this, I hope to infuse my life and the greater world with compassion.
Are you hungry for this too? If so, please join me…