This morning I awoke and made coffee. That’s not unusual. In fact, you might call it a ritual. Hmmm. Definitely a habit that I have no intention of breaking.
Anyway, if I’m alone, I usually use the time between pour-over pours to catch up on social media posts or read the latest New York Times and Los Angeles Times headlines. If Karen is in town, I wait until the coffee is finished and after I bring it back to the bedroom on a tray, we chat and sip our coffee while checking into the online world.
I’m often greeted by Facebook posts from my youngest son Jay, who lives here in Irvine with me. Since he’s a musician/singer/lyricist, his posts are usually about hardcore bands or upcoming shows he wants to attend.
Every now and then I’ll read a post that really gets my attention. The post below is the one I was greeted with this morning.
Compassion, empathy, and kindness
Jay is a unique person, and that’s not just a dad talking. He has an extraordinary sense of empathy; An amount I’ve not encountered in others his age.
I can clearly recall how, being taller and larger than most other kids in elementary school, as a second grader he was deemed the protector by those of lesser stature. I witnessed this firsthand one day when I was on the playground as a volunteer. A smaller student was being chased by a larger boy and the smaller one ran directly to Jay and asked for help. I saw Jay gently place the smaller boy behind himself as he became a physical barrier of protection between the victim and the aggressor.
He’s always been of a sensitive nature and is wired in this regard very similar to his father. :roll:
We are both on the highly sensitive person scale in that sights, sounds, crowds, and scents can induce physiological reactions. I’m more introverted than he is, but I think he might grow into the me version of an HSP in later years. I say this because I was like him when I was his age.
Empathy can be defined as possessing the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. I’ve seen him exhibit this trait many times.
Just yesterday, when we encountered a mother and young girl begging for money in a shopping center in the rather affluent city of Irvine, California I noticed how it affected him. He was moved and immediately felt sad and I knew his empathy had been evoked by the plight of the little girl.
In Practical Buddhism, there are three active practices: meditation, mindfulness, and compassionate-kindness. Practicing compassionate kindness, as I write in this post,
…is a choice anyone can make. I support the position that compassionate kindness is rare. More often, in my experience, kindness is conditional. But compassionate kindness is the fruit of an open heart. It’s the by-product of the inclusive acceptance of all.
If I had to sum up Jay’s personality into one descriptor, it would be that he is inclusive of all.
As you read his Facebook post, remember what it was like to be bullied, as most of us have been in one way or another. Then try to think of someone reaching out to you with an offer of help, of a listening ear, of an unconditional offer of assistance.
These individuals are rare. We should all strive to be this compassionate.