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Our Own Worst Critics

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I can clearly remember the day! No, the moment.

It must have been decades ago. I was sitting in my friends' backyard having a beer on a beautiful summer afternoon. Their backdoor exited into a block concrete "patio". Patio's not really what it was. It was big enough to have a BBQ, but that's it. It had painted black metal railings and concrete steps that led down to their grassy backyard - where I was sitting. Two garden homes shared this concrete stepped exit.

As I sat and sipped my beer I watched their neighbour's young son playing and climbing on the patio/steps. He wore only a diaper.

He hung his legs over the concrete edge, in an attempt to climb off the ledge rather than use the steps, but his legs weren't long enough to reach the ground.

Totally disconnected from the scene - and apparently indifferent - I simply watched. I <i>knew</i> what was coming. The weight of the boy's legs would drag him over the edge, he would painfully scrape his soft belly on the rough concrete edge, and he would cry.<br />

I sat - detached - and watched my prediction play out like a premonition.<br />

I didn't intervene. I simply observed. There was a great sense of calm in me... which was peculiar.<br />

I remember that moment so well because it was that incident that convinced me, all those years ago, that I lacked compassion.<br />

But the part that never made sense to me was my profound sense of calm and being at peace.<br />

It has only been very recently, in this past year, when I 'reconnected' to this memory. I recognized the person in the memory, where I don't think I have <i>ever</i> recognized that person before.<br />

Maybe because I've only recently been introduced to this person through my practice of meditation.<br />

The Watcher.<br />

That aspect of me that is simply aware. That part of me that watches. In meditation he (it?) is that which observers that thoughts. He is always calm and serene.<br />

Although I could never have recognized him all those years ago, I believe that is who he was. On that day, I had a lucid (traditionally non-meditative) moment.<br />

~<br />

This is important because that same moment was when I had judged and condemned myself as lacking compassion. It had shaped my perspective of myself every since.<br />

It's odd how a condemnation like this can steal your permission to grow, isn't it?<br />

I'm not convinced that I lack compassion. Sure, I can work on my more compassionate, and I have my moment when I can be insensitive and self-serving... but we all have these dark moments.<br />

Had The Watcher not been 'dominant' and 'in control', I've no doubt I would have lunged forward and caught the child.<br />

I suppose the lesson here is that we must be compassionate and forgiving to ourselves at times.<br />

This may seem like an unimportant or petty story, but its ramifications to me are significant.<br />

I believe compassion and solace are intrinsically entangled through dharma. (The Dharma Entanglement)... and if I allow myself to believe I am devoid and hopeless in one of these 'traits'... only serves as a barrier and an obstacle.<br />

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