Tuesday, July 7, 2009

SPIRIT 2-fer: Caring and Compassion

My previous post got me thinking about the subject of the next grace on the list, as well as one several steps down, and how they fit together. As I mentioned before, there may be such a thing as caring too much - when one's thoughts and worries about others begin to overshadow the concerns of oneself to a point where it becomes damaging. This is the opposite extreme to being entirely self-absorbed, and just as harmful to oneself and, I believe, the world at large.

Compassion is often grouped together with caring as being indistinguishable, but I propose a considerable difference in my personal definitions of the words. Where caring is the thought alone, maybe with the word to go along with it, compassion is thought, word and deed in one - and therein lies a world of difference. Caring alone, as good as my intentions are and as much as it springs from my love for my friends, leads to nail-biting and hair-tearing and more sleepless nights than I care to admit. I can speak of my concerns to other friends, but even after pouring my heart out, I always seem to come away with it even fuller and heavier than before. Compassion, on the other hand, with its inclusion of action, gives me a real outlet rather than just temporary relief.

To put my definition of these terms and two previous ones more succinctly, caring is to compassion as awareness is to activism. The girl who is merely aware and caring reads an article about war or a worrying letter from a friend and cries. The girl who is active and compassionate puts the paper or letter down, gets up, and goes to a peace rally or speaks to the friend. I want to be the second girl.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Signs, signs, everywhere are signs...

A week or two ago, I took advantage of the lovely weather to take a walk with a friend and shoot the breeze, just to share what was going on in our lives. Lately I've been quite worried about several of my friends, and I was letting my walking partner know all of my concerns, as they have been in the forefront of my thoughts. I looked down at the sidewalk and saw a playing card at my feet - the Queen of Hearts. A bell rang in the back of my mind that this meant something, but I couldn't remember just what, so I picked up the card and put it in my wallet, planning on deciphering it later. When we were retracing our steps to end the walk, I noticed another card on the ground near where I'd found the first one. Wondering if this might be the second half to whatever message I was supposed to be getting, I picked it up as well, even though it was soaked through...although it had barely been sprinkling. It was another Queen of Hearts.

Now I could have overlooked finding the first card alone as an obvious coincidence - it was a neighborhood with plenty of kids, who could have been playing with a deck of cards and forgotten to clean them up. But the second card being exactly the same as the first, as well as both cards being directly in my path, gives me a bit more pause about the whole situation and makes me more inclined to believe that this really is the universe trying to let me know something.

The Queen of Hearts corresponds to the Queen of Cups in tarot, and every source I saw during my research mentioned the word "compassion." This card denotes someone who cares a lot about others, which is of course a good thing, unless it's taken too far. There's the possibility of this card showing up in a situation when someone is putting their cares about others above their own cares, sometimes even to a dangerous level. I don't think I'm in any danger of completely forgetting myself for others, but there is the fact that, when my friend and I started talking and she asked me what had been going on in my life, the first thing I thought of was my worries about my friends, NOT what had been happening to me.

I know I'm being told something. I think it's something along the lines of "lighten up a little bit!" or "don't worry so much about what you can't change!" or even "remember yourself!" I'd welcome any other views on the matter, especially the bit about the second card being all wet. Totally can't get that part.

In other news, I'm making yogurt at least once a week and it is better every time :D