Being compassionate is better than being a jerk face.
And I know it can be challenging. It is for me.
Being compassionate is especially tough when it’s just so easy for me to think that everything is against me or the whole universe is out to make my life more difficult, that everyone’s an idiot, or everyone is mean.
The truth, though it’s easy to forget, is that everyone is dealing with their own challenges, and is doing the absolute best they can to manage their suffering.
Like Henry the rescue dog.
Henry, like many humans, has issues. He was abused and kicked around and suffered things that I don’t even know about. The most dangerous thing he does is growl, bark, and try to bite if I touch him while he’s sleeping.
In any case, instead of being mad at him, or punishing him in some way, I feel like the best thing I can do is just call his name to make sure he’s awake before I start interacting with him.
So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m being compassionate and aware of his challenges, mindful of his space, and creating an environment where we can live peacefully so he doesn’t have to go to a shelter.
That’s a nice lesson.
And that lesson makes it easier to be compassionate when the person I’m on a date with can’t put her Smartphone down and give me her full attention. She just can’t.
Getting frustrated with her isn’t going to fix things or make her into the person I want her to be. It’s not going to get me the sort of attention or connection that I’m looking for.
Feeling inadequate or feeling less interesting than her phone isn’t helpful to either of us.
What is helpful is to realize that we’re all suffering, and that suffering manifests itself in different ways. Perhaps her compulsive use of her phone is a way of managing hers.
It’s too late now. Though I liked her, we’ve drifted apart after not really hitting it off so I’ll never know.
What I do know is that I can’t change other people and I’m not in control of their stuff.
The dog can stay or not. Training may help, but it can’t change who he is.
I can date a Smartphone Girl or not. But I can’t change who she is or her relationship with electronic devices. But I guess I could decide to only meet her where phones don’t work.
Like the apocalypse.
A time when everything shuts down and our only choices are to pay attention to each other, work together, and be more compassionate.