Monday, December 29, 2014

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion. Dalai Lama

The New Year is upon us, which is always, at least for me, a time of reflection. The year flew by, but not without giving me many moments of sheer delight, as well as minutes of pain and panic, because that is just the way life is.  I have always known in my heart that I could have never been a Stoic.  If you are not familiar with the true meaning of Stoicism, I borrowed this from Wikipedia : Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC.  the Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgement, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection" would not suffer such emotions. Unlike the Stoics, i rather enjoy the ups and downs of life, as they add the sense of drama to my life, recognizing that I could never appreciate the highs without knowing the sadness of the lows, nor could I suffer through the lows without the remembrance of the highs.  Just a personal philosophy. 

Just like LIFE magnified 100 fold, the christmas season brings many highs and lows to our emotions as well. I am thinking of the song "I'll Be home for Christmas", released in 1943 by Bing Crosby and written for the WWII soldiers who were overseas.  Through the years, that song has become a Christmas standard, taking each listener back to a childhood in which Mom and Dad were the responsible adults; happy memories of simpler times when just being together was enough; when all of the family members were connected and together; before Death would take our loved ones and make us yearn for JUST ONE MORE CHRISTMAS TOGETHER.  Such nostalgia and longing brings an invasion of pain rushing into our hearts, as we reflect on what was and what is. I believe that our fragile emotions and recollections during the Christmas season make each one of us remember who we used to be, and because of our own raw emotions, we are able to recognize the feelings of hurt and pain more easily in friends, family, and even strangers, making us softer and kinder and more compassionate toward others.  It is no accident that kindnesses abound at Christmas more than any other time of the year.

It is my wish that all people would view others in this gentler way every day of every year, not just during the Christmas season. Take the time to listen to the cry of another's soul; look at someone with soft eyes, not seeking what is wrong, but seeking what is right.  See the positives in others rather than scrutinizing for the negatives. 

In teaching, as in other professions in which a person must deal with a multitude of others, it is good to remind yourself that you are working with fragile human beings, and perhaps they are doing the best they can do with the talents they were given.  Everyone is carrying around some kind of pain from the highs and lows in their lives, and that pain is rarely visible from the outside. Remember how much a kind word lifted your spirits.  Let's make a difference every day of every year, just by being kind.

"We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us, and make us kinder.  You always have a choice." Dalai Lama

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 

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