Strangers on a bus become the best of friends, neighbours become lovers, and the person in front of you at this precise moment might come to share their deepest secrets with you should you give them the chance. Through some magic that is the universe, people are brought together without any common sense or mathematical master plan. People come into our lives purely by chance. Whether they stay is a choice.
A while ago I was reminded that we are responsible for everyone we invite into our lives. We are responsible to make them feel better about themselves, to treat them with kindness and respect. While we are ultimately responsible for taking care of ourselves first and foremost, we should aim to do so, by making the people that by chance come into our lives feel better after they met us, than they did before, disregarding if they choose to stay or choose to go. The length of how chance turned into choice is of no matter, only the quality of our compassion.
It’s been a long journey to reach this insight, and the road ahead to practise it is steep. Knowing that often the pain I’ve felt has contaminated the people around me. Not through malice but through ignorance, and it’s a hard and invaluable lesson to learn that just like joy, kindness and peace, pain also gets mirrored back.
In one of the many snippets of wisdom, the Buddha said: “My actions are my only true possessions, I can’t escape the consequences of my actions.” Reading it I have never felt so grounded in myself. Believing only in an eternal now, I ask myself how I can improve the actions by which I conduct my life in this very moment.
A while ago I was given a rare treat as chance turned to choice. With my head against a human chest, I was listening to the heartbeat of another person. The Bible teaches us that the human soul exists in her blood, and so the beating of a heart becomes the soul’s language. Fast when we are excited, angry, exhausted. Calm when we are at peace, content, at rest. Even science teaches us that listening to the heartbeat of a person we like offers us peace. One person’s emotion infused into another person’s. But in each heartbeat, there is a beaten heart. In order to reach peace, a war needs to resolve.
Listening to a beaten heart, and listening to the soul infuse itself with mine, I remember that pain is to be welcomed into our lives like an old friend. Like Buddha offered Mara tea and conversation to show us balance, like Jesus embraced his crucifixion for our salvation, we too should not hide our pain, but embrace our pain, feel it to its finale, for it is the key to our transformation. Without pain, there can be no pleasure. Without the darkness of sorrow, joy would not seem as bright. It is in pain that we learn mercy, in struggle that we grow stronger, and in sorrow that we build compassion.
Grateful for all the chances that give me choices, I acknowledge the value of both the heart and the beating.