Posted by: innerpilgrimage | May 12, 2011

Compassion

      This is a story about compassion.

      Once upon a time, in a chilly October in the long-ago year of 2003 C.E., a beautiful and talented woman wanted to write a novel. So, she went to a writer’s group for NaNoWriMo in her local town–hoping to connect with other people who had the same goal: Writing a novel.
      This woman was no slouch in the creativity department. She worked at a local craft center, volunteering her time in order to learn from wonderful teachers. She already had educated herself, and she had a magic scroll which she used in order to create art from fabric. Though she never became a sorceress of fabric design (like the great and powerful Coco Chanel, for example), she wove her creativity into knotwork through sticks (knitting and crocheting) and created beautiful beadwork to adorn the people around her. When she created, she infused love in everything she made, and it was beautiful.
      Comfortable as a hedge witch of the creative arts, she had what she needed, had several things the world told her she needed, and left the rest behind because she felt she did not need them. Her life was small but well-balanced, and she liked it that way.
      Great things, however, were in the works for her, and she regularly found herself observing and being forced to get involved in battles which raged below her Tower. Often, these battles would get so close that her Tower would fall. Her life would be scattered at her feet, and the world would be wide open to her. But she loved her magic Tower, so she rebuilt it. And it was as homey a Tower as anyone could ask for. She generously gave from her treasures, wove magic in her creations, and lived her life . . . even as she dreamed of more.
      On that chilly November night, she met a woman–broad and tall and filled with advice for the world. This woman was a princess in disguise, and she believed she wanted to be a White Knight, and she felt she knew how to do it. Unfortunately, being a princess, she also believed that it was her job to be rescued, so she fought with her desire to both meet the expectations of a Princess-Who-Needs-Rescuing and her grand dream of being a White Knight. As the group of writers shrunk until the two were left, they worked side-by-side to create something new in the world. And they both did.
      The beautiful creative hedge witch’s life was precisely what the secret princess wanted in her own . . . here was a woman whose Tower was in a constant battle zone, who clearly needed rescuing! Hooray, thought the disguised princess, this is my chance to finally show ’em all that I am not meant for satins and tulle and pointy cone hats! I can be a Knight, prove myself worthy of the charger and armor, and really get out of this whole mess! So the disguised princess decided to rescue the witch . . . who was content with her life and really didn’t want to be dragged from the Tower she knew so well.
      Time passed, and the Tower fell and was rebuilt. The disguised princess got in there and tried to build the Tower differently, move it to a different place, change everything about the hedge witch’s life. But the hedge witch just wanted to create her beautiful things and live her peaceful life–even if she knew that having battles beneath her Tower and having it fall regularly was just part of life.
      Well, the distressed damsel and secret princess was moved around by the political machinations of the world and was miserable. And every time she was, she snuck out to the hedge witch’s Tower and tried to prove her worthiness as a White Knight. The hedge witch was patient despite being frustrated. She had what she needed, even if others decided the plains beneath her Tower were precisely where they wanted to fight all the time.
      Time changes all things and all people, and both women changed. The distressed damsel and secret princess realized that being a White Knight was just as bad as being the prize to be rescued–the hedge witch taught her that, helping her again and again to see that it’s up to us to find our own magic. But the secret princess could only see the battles and she felt terrible about it. Her kind friend suffered losing and having to rebuild again and again, and she wanted to help. So, she spoke the words of her royal family, of her court advisors, of all of the people who had authority over her life and clearly knew better (because they said they did). And the hedge witch still stayed in her Tower, weaving love into her creations and giving them out. Though the battles were starting to get a little annoying. So, when the princess was traveling, the hedge witch made a small change to her Tower. When it fell, she made a few more changes. Then a few more. Not big changes, but ones which made things easier on her.
      On her travels, the princess met a sage who explained that she did not have to rescue others in order to rescue someone. She learned that self-rescue is an option. So she practiced it, but it was hard. The lure of being a White Knight–grand and glorious–distracted her when she faced difficulties in her own self-rescuing practice.
      Then, she tripped over an ancient tome of deep wisdom. In it was a lesson about compassion–that White Knights and Distressed Damsels only served to harm each other. That they chased around in a circle, never getting anywhere. So, the princess wrote down the enchantment-breaking compassion spell and used it. And when she did, she realized that her purpose was not to be a Distressed Damsel waiting for rescue or a White Knight waiting for someone to rescue. Being a princess was all about people’s perceptions . . . and a lot of people didn’t particularly like the monarchy and its strict rules about chivalry anyway. She decided she would stop being a secret princess and renounce both her title and the system she grew up to assume was how the world worked.
      She passed the hedge witch on a road, and, as they walked toward the Tower, the ex-princess started trying to use her new knowledge as she learned the hedge witch had been given a vision. Despite herself, she returned to her old teaching–trying to rescue the hedge witch and telling herself she was doing it as an equal, not as a princess who knew better.
      One morning, she woke up and realized that she had been doing the same thing, that the magic the hedge witch cast and the Tower the hedge witch lived in had changed because the hedge witch willed it to change. She had made real changes to her life, and she knew that she had to journey out into the world–even as she wanted to live in her Tower, too.
      On that bright and beautiful morning, with war looming at the horizon, she realized that the hedge witch was growing her magic on her own–without the ex-princess’s help. She was seeking her own path, and she was preparing to go out into the world, slowly packing up what she needed to do it and learning what she needed in order to live out in the world as a powerful sorceress.
      The ex-princess realized that her own journey–from Distressed Damsel who wanted to be a White Knight to regular person–was what she should focus on. So, she apologized to the hedge witch for trying to push her into leaving the Tower before the hedge witch was ready. And she started to take her own journey again . . . entering the world to experience it just as she was–neither princess nor knight. Just a person, like everyone else. She finally took the lessons of the hedge witch with her and worked to grow as a person. And she was grateful, finally, for the lesson of real compassion: To step out of people’s ways so they could continue on their own journeys. And by doing that, she found herself on the road, walking toward a beautiful world of possibilities. And she was content.
     
      So, what does that have to do with me? Well, a longtime friend of mine, who has been a teacher of compassion for almost 10 years, has been having stuff going on which is life-changing. And I started meddling and rescuing as usual, because I want her to be happy. The thing is, she’s walking her own journey and growing. And it’s not my journey because we’re not the same person. We are two women of different experiences, different strengths, different hopes. Well, this morning, I realized that if I really want her to be happy? My job is to get out of her way and stop trying to fix it all. When I do that, I just put up more frustrations, obstacles, and worries for her. She’s on her path. She’s walking it just fine, and I don’t need to push or carry her. My job is to walk my path and be grateful for the lessons from the sages I meet along the way.
      And my friend, the hedge witch who apparently has a big future in front of her, is growing into that big future slowly and surely. And that is something worth celebrating, worth saying, “I appreciate your journey and the lessons it teaches me. And the things which I admire I can take with me, grow from, learn from.” My friend is a teacher of compassion, of disentanglement from the other–especially in the name of trying to make a good life. If I want to make a good life she can be part of, then my job is to prepare a place she can retreat to in her journey if she needs it. That’s all. If I make myself a safe person, a safe harbor where she (and others) can rest? Then I have done what I was supposed to do. No amount of nagging and dragging will change that, and it dishonors her by making her journey about me instead of appreciating the lessons her journey teach me about my own journey.
      What others do is not about me. It never was about me. It never will be about me. And that is the sneaky grandiosity I face off with–telling myself I am trying to control someone else because I care deeply about them. To care deeply about a person, I show it by getting out of their way. I show it by showing that I have learned about them, that their unique journey is worth celebrating–AS IT IS. And in that? I can find peace and serenity.
     
      Jess. Addict. Food. Approval. Recovering. Learning. Grateful. Joyful. Hopeful.
     
      Compassionately.
     
      Now I’m off to finish that crocheted project then get myself some cheap clear nail polish for the stretchy cord I plan to use to start making bracelets with. I’m feeling all crafty today, and I want to celebrate it with sparkly beads and colorful yarn and putting love into these gifts I plan to distribute into the world. Oh, and then I can work more on my fears list for my Fourth Step Inventory. Yesterday, I felt blocked and went through my paper-and-pencil journals and found that I had a lot of fears holding me back. So I wrote them down out of that journal, and things started moving again.

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