I am not a quiet person. I don’t sneak up behind people, they see me coming, they can hear my footfall and feel my presence in the room before I make myself known. I usually enter rooms by pushing doors open with strength, not subtlety. My voice carries, even as I whisper.
I am trying to make less of an impact upon my environment, I am trying to be that person in the room that no one sees until he speaks. I actively think about entering rooms and leaving rooms with out people taking notice. I don’t know how well this is working yet.
All of this to set the stage: I am aggressive.
Didn’t see that one coming, did ya?
Compassion. I don’t know that I had ever really thought about compassion before a few months ago. I started to read about meditation and mindfulness. I wanted to learn to calm my mind, to control my emotions and to still my tongue. Along the way I started to read more about Buddhism. Now I have quite a little library dedicated to The Buddha and the various forms of Buddhism practiced around the world. I lean more to the northern Buddhism, specifically Tibetan form of Vajray?na Buddhism.
Back to compassion though; I found that I started to see the world differently. Buddhism teaches that there is no division, no boundaries between you and I. We are all linked together, one organism in a way. My upbringing was one of Christian values, that whole love thy neighbor thing. I believe in that, no doubt, and I have always tried to look out for others. I was gifted with size and as such I have kind of always thought it was my lot in life to protect those who can not protect themselves. That doesn’t always work out in my favor.
Now that I am seeing the homeless as simply me, that changes how I think of their plight. The starving child on the television, the old man driving the boat on the interstate… they are all me. If that doesn’t change your attitude – nothing will.
Suddenly the homeless guy near our office isn’t someone who I blindly drive by every day. I mean sure, I occasionally gave him a buck or two if I had them handy, but now I actually say hello to him as well. He is a really nice guy too.
You know something; he was always just the ‘Can Guy’ carrying his garbage bag full of soda cans who waved at you and smiled, acknowledging you and saying “Have a good day” in his own way. Now I have to wonder what he knows that I don’t, what keeps him moving forward, what allows him to be able to smile and wish me a good day? Is it altruistic or is he only doing it in the hopes that I will offer him something in return?
Maybe he is like a sadhu, maybe he is a simple holy man and this is how he chooses to live.
My aggressive nature is hard to suppress, even with those who should only see compassion from me. Well, I guess everyone should only see compassion from each of us really, but you know what I mean. With my family, my wife, my children even, sometimes I have to remind myself to calm down, to lower my voice.
Just a few nights ago my son told me it worried him when I spoke in a low voice, that it meant I was really upset. I laughed at that, but it is sad.
So I am trying. Can you tell?