If we pay attention, we’re always shown where we’re being a little too rigid or perhaps too slack. Of late, I’ve been suffering from the NYC affliction: cynicism and hardness. And while I know that those afflictions can be present and I don’t need to BE cynical and hard…they have the potential to creep in. It could possibly have been brought on by my reading too many articles about our current election process or maybe seeing Christmas decorations before Halloween. Who knows. But no matter the cause, I know I’m using it to protect my broken heart from being broken more.
As I’ve written before, I have the great honor of guiding awareness practices to teens and young adults through and organization called The Lineage Project. Recently, I was teaching a class on compassion (no small task when there’s cynicism creeping in the background.) The question to the students was to share a moment when they were able to step into someone’s shoes and understand how they’re feeling.
One young man (a freshman in high school, so 14 or 15 years old) with the biggest brightest eyes you’ve ever seen and a smile that is all joy shared:
“Well, my parents didn’t have enough money…”
Immediately, my mind wandered thinking, “Oh Lord, I’ve heard this before…’My parents didn’t have enough money to buy me new Jordans or a new iPhone (or whatever kids need/want these days) but I understood.’ C’mon kid…!”
The young man continued,
“So, the court came in to take my brother and my sister and me and put us into foster homes. My sister went to one home and my brother and me were put into another home. But the lady was racist and was really mean to us. And so the court came in and took my brother and me out of that home…but they had to put us into two separate homes. I don’t see my brother very much anymore.”
He hesitated looking at the floor and then turned to me…his big bright eyes becoming very serious…and said…”I think I know how my brother feels.”
(Heart breaks…plenty of fucks still to give.)