This past weekend I attended a three day event with guest speaker Jack Kornfield, a psychologist from northern California. While I predict I may be writing about this weekend experience for multiple weeks, I wanted to start with this poem he shared, which was new to me.
The chord that struck me about this writing was the common humanity piece. It touched me (and continues to touch me) that we often assume we are alone in our pain . . . but we’re not. We all experience the difficult emotions . . . sadness, grief, loneliness, anger, rejection . . . The recognition that these are our experiences, and that no one is immune, significantly changes my perspective when I’m in the day-to-day grind of going to the grocery store, waiting in line at the bank, driving down I-95 in aggressive traffic. For me, the common humanity of our emotional experiences opens the door to compassion for others, even when they’re honking at me.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. This is not (and will not be) perfected. I’m not patient and kind 100%, but when I can be aware of this common humanity experience, the range of emotions and difficulty that we all face in our ways, it helps me be less reactive. I feel a little less of the pain and a little more heartful.