I must say I am finding all sorts of avenues to court joy these days. Sometimes it’s in the competency of the woman who needs to draw a vile of blood from me, or in a colleague who sends an especially sweet text after an afternoon run with me, or a dear friend who has offered to do me a huge favor with her precious and newly retired time. Joy floats all around in those sweet gifts. But there is something else that I am feeling. I am just really happy with many of my choices: those made yesterday, last year, maybe even ten years ago, when I set in motion a lifestyle with Future Me in mind. You get what I mean right? It didn’t all happen at once, but little by little I realized that I needed to lead Present Me around on a short lease and think about tomorrow. She’s a bit of a wild child who wants to run, well wild, this Present Me. She’s not always reliable. She’s not factual either. Oh the stories she tells afterwards are pretty colorful, but they can led to a less than happy future me. Sometimes Present Me does win me over, and sometimes, even in her worst decisions, I smile, a bit hungover, with sore dancing feet, and an embarrassing selfie plastered all over my socials at midnight… but mostly, I keep her in check.
There has been an outpouring of tremendous world-wide empathy showered on France since the terrorist attack on Paris. On this sentiment it seems all people agree. Beyond that, we fall into a chasm of differences. Over where we should place our attention. Over borders and refugees and immigration and political policy. Over ideology and religion. There are hundreds upon hundreds of blogs stirring up hate, defining us separate from them, each new headline fueling the fire of terror. But none of those charged issues are my concern in this post. I just want to reflect on a more humane reaction. A reaction that elicits compassion. “Empathy is a gateway to compassion. It’s understanding how someone feels, and trying to imagine how that might feel for you — it’s a mode of relating. Compassion takes it further. It’s feeling what that person is feeling, holding it, accepting it, and taking some kind of action” (Chandler).