A Little More about Compassion


I’m bumbling through the morning. It’s 7:30. Spring is in the air. Laundry is just coming out of the washer, getting thrown into the dryer. I fed the cat, drove the wife to work, drank half a cup of coffee, and now I’m sitting down to compose a little something before my day really gets rolling.

You read that right: Spring is in the air, and I drove the wife to work…

After 25 days of driving restriction, I took myself off restriction just for one day. I needed the car. I’m meeting with some bigwigs at work about 4 hours before my shift. I may have mentioned this awhile back, but we’re a one car family. The boys don’t drive, so even though both of them are in the house this week (Spring break), Judi has an unavoidable work thing and can’t escape for the 40 minutes it takes to make the round trip from her work, to our house, to my work and then back to her place. I pre-scheduled my CPAP fitting for April 4 but that’s about twelve days away. Twelve days of truly crappy sleep, and time I shouldn’t be driving. Still… I drove.

Yet, I noticed a lot of things on my little excursion. First, my driving skills are not rusty. I guess that once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget, even if the bike is a car. Seeing how the single most important car part is the stereo, it all worked out great. 80s music blaring, I drove Judi first to the coffee shop to pick up her order, then around the corner to her office building.

Second, a lot of flowers and trees have bloomed in the last couple weeks. It seems that when I don’t drive myself, I don’t really take note of my surroundings.  The last time I was out in the neighborhood was the day before yesterday. I’m pretty sure all those flowers were there on Tuesday night. I was just living in a world of not-driving gray, I guess.

Also, there was a full moon yesterday. This morning it was huge on the sky, still hanging all solemn and beautiful above the Popeye’s Chicken. And never were a more poetic string of words penned.

I need to do a super-shave before I see the bigwigs: the kind where the beard gets trimmed so I don’t run off looking like Captain Neckbeard. I made him up–there IS no Captain Neckbeard. It would be a great name for an emo band, mind you.

Loss-move-onTwo days ago I saw Joe again. This time I spoke to him. We made eye contact as I was running out the front door to pick up pizza. I said “Hi! How are you?” He smiled, and kind of shrugged and said “Ahh ooooh Ah aohhoah,” shoving three fingers into his mouth while violently shaking his head.

Now, I’m interrupting my narrative so you have time to  write down my end of the conversation. To future-you and your children-to-be: don’t accidentally say this in the future. Got a pen and paper handy? Good!

“I heard you had a little trouble with your health. Well you look great!”

I lied. He looked like a 70 year old man who had a stroke. I mentally slapped myself a couple dozen times and slithered out the front door. “Well, I better go pick up dinner! Bye!”

I related this story to a friend last night. She said, “Well, at least you talked to him. Don’t you think you’re being a little hard on yourself? What more do you need to do?”

Maybe I feel like I need redemption of some kind, because of the way I ran and hid the last time. A long time ago, someone smarter than me said “treat others as you’d want to be treated.”  I still have a long way to go. I guess I should take it one day at a time, be sorry for their loss, and move on. No trite words. Joe didn’t need that. He didn’t expect a deep conversation about philosophy either.  Maybe he just expected compassion and a kind word. Can I do that in a pinch? I suppose so. Can I deliver on that promise every day? I don’t know. You’re talking to a guy who just started driving here. I just noticed the moon was out and the first trees were in bloom. And I feel like I’m new to compassion. I’ll keep working on it though. Who knows what the new year will bring.

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