A past. We all have it.
Some may be smoother than others, a pretty pavement parting ways through groves of towering trees, free from tangles and snags of life’s unforgiving ways.
As for the majority of us:
We walk through weeded woods, broken and split by weary weathered days, impossible decisions, choices that leave a ripple of effects, dirty stains, never to be washed away by cleansing rains.
They leave sticky sets of footprints, squashed through muddy terrain, pulled down by vicious vines.
But we continue to walk forward, all of us. Bloodied, broken, bruised.
We walk towards a future that manifests in our minds and is created by our conscious decisions. Decisions we make each day to try and be better people, intentions to do better than we did the day before.
And as we walk these precarious paths that are our lives, we inevitably cross onto others.
MLK JR. said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
But what happens when my darkness, my demons, my despair, my bruised and broken road crosses yours? What happens when your perpetually pained past stumbles upon mine?
What happens when there simply is no love or light? When hate, darkness, pain, and naivety all come together in a callous conglomerate.
Where do we go from there?
We have all felt the brutal betrayal, the sting of shame; we have all fallen to others judgements.
And to others, we have all done the same.
Because we are humans and we are flawed, but humans we are all the same.
Our past pains follow us into the future and fuel our days, they build our character, influence our perspectives, affect our thoughts and therefore play a huge role in our daily actions and reactions.
Our reactions not only to ourselves but to those around us, to those souls who are on the same beaten path as us, whom we too often pass at exactly the wrong time, and in doing so, create an explosion that often burns bridges and fizzles out into regret, remorse and guilt.
A vicious cycle filled with misunderstandings, confusion and bruised egos.
But in the problem lies the solution: our reactions and perceptions.
Often, when we are offended, wounded or hurt by a situation or another it is because we:
1. Perceive a situation differently than the other person
2. React based on this inherently biased perception
Not considering that we have all been raised to view the word in entirely different ways. Perspective is something that is specific to everyone. I like to equate our individual views on the world and life to a unique language that we all possess, that has been created out of the millions of individual experiences we have all lived through in our lives.
You don’t speak my language, and I don’t speak yours.
So what is the solution?
For me, a quote comes to mind. A quote that has changed my life. A mantra I have adopted and live by.
“In a world where you can be anything, be kind”
In a world where we all speak one of the billions of variations of perspective and live in a world blurred grey, we must find common ground. We must find a way to understand others perspectives and remind ourselves, that in a world where we often feel like we have no control, the one place we do have control lies in our reactions.
And it’s in our reactions and our abilities to perceive others perspectives, that we can find kindness, empathy and compassion.
For it is compassion that will save the world. And with compassion, we will all be better humans.
Still bruised, still broken, but better.
Better humans for ourselves, for humanity, for the world.
And that is a future I look forward to gradually living into.
One compassionate moment at a time.