Pictures of Compassion

I was sitting on a plane next to a mother and daughter. The mother’s hands flailed as the daughter kindly pats her arms to calm her. She adjusted the headrest with care. Then, she cut her mother’s food and fed her like a child. it was a striking and beautiful role reversal of a child parenting the parent. I wondered when or if this will happen for me and I was scared of the thought, as I admired the woman for her compassion and selfless love.

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A friend has lovingly looked over her mother who has been on life support for a decade. She bathes her, performs physical therapy, feeds her, speaks lovingly to her daily. I am amazed by her compassion. She holds out hope that one day her mother will speak again. Every day she looks for signs of renewed life. Her compassion and hope is beautiful to me.

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A man picks up an ant from the pool where it struggles to survive. He lets the ant crawl all over his hand, moving fluidly with the ant. After a few friendly moments, he lovingly places the ant on the grass nearby. His act of compassion towards such a small thing reminds me to be kind to every living creature.

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There is a girl on the phone with her father. She is crying. “You’re the best dad ever. I love you. You’re the best dad.” She kept repeating in between sobs. She hangs up and sits there crying. The man who is with her hugs her. She sobs onto his shoulder. Her back rises and falls with her grief. He leaves to use the phone and she continues to cry. A woman walked up and placed the flower she had in her hair on the table as she walked by. A small act, but significant.

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Compassion takes courage. Dealing with someone else’s pain that is not necessarily our own is uncomfortable. We have to go outside our comfort zone in order to comfort another. Compassion is a practice of just being there, being understanding and giving love. Compassion is achieved with an open heart and loving intentions. If looked for it is everywhere and proves that deep down, humanity is good.

True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain but also being moved to help relieve it.  – Daniel Goleman


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