Compassion

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After a morning
of pain
(not mine)
I lay down
and tried
to run away.
It didn’t work.
The pain ran with me.

Pain is a fast runner.
It can stick to you
like a shadow.

Exhausted, fearful
I tried a different tactic;
stopped running,
turned to it
and smiled.
Spoke to it
and listened.

Discovered
we are not enemies.
It is not evil, simply
the way things are.
It needs my love
and runs after me
to ask it.

I can reach out to it
now, touch it, even.
I can feel my heart melt.
We can sit together
in the half-light,
listen to each other’s stories
and hold hands.

Weekly photo challenge: One Love

When Shadows Fall

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Let go, until you find
that stillness where
there is no fear
of shadows, falling.

Only the beating heart,
acceptance,
and a deepening love.
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Life has a habit of throwing things your way when you least expect it, often unwelcome things that arrive when you feel least able to deal with it. These things can happen without warning, like shadows that fall across your path, unlooked for, unwelcome, turning the world dark.

I used to try to run away from suffering, from pain and illness, both my own and other people’s, or distract myself from it – and ended up being so afraid of it that I was afraid of the fear.

It’s stupid I know, and it should have been obvious that running away from fear or pain is an exercise in futility, but in the absence of any alternative I simply ran faster and faster, or tried to distract myself until eventually I just couldn’t run any more and began to realise there had to be another way. In the end I think I stopped running out of sheer exhaustion, but once I had stopped I discovered some unexpected things.

Simply to feel your own pain or sorrow, and then to approach it and let yourself sit with it and get to know it really goes against the grain. At first it feels like an alarming thing to do. But when there’s nowhere else to go, in fact it comes as a surprising relief – because for one thing, just experiencing the pain without bringing any kind of narrative to it and feeling frightened can be a lot less awful than the fear of the pain has been. Accepting things exactly the way they are, without weaving stories around them and believing all kind of disastrous outcomes feels – well, so much better. And how things really, actually are, rather than how you think about them, becomes interesting to explore.

I’m still fairly new to this. I’ve spent more than half a lifetime doing things wrong and it takes time to change old patterns. But I’m getting there, a little at a time, and even though I still slide straight down the same old negative neural pathways far too easily, at least I notice what I’m doing which helps to slow me down and I can remind myself that I have a choice. I can see the shadows for what they really are, and even sit amongst them in the shade.

Shadows will always fall, but they move, they shift, they change and eventually they pass.