I have a friend whose ex-husband (and father of her two daughters) is in liver failure. Another very dear friend who's in the hospital suffering from Lupus. A buddy with heart troubles. A few friends dealing with depression in it's various nasty forms. One friend who lost two of his friends this week. A couple of friends going through divorces. A teacher who's lost his mother this month. And on and on.
When you see this much suffering, particularly amongst your own friends and loved ones - and to such a high degree - it's pretty tough to stay positive. I'm doubly fortunate that I'm Buddhist AND a ridiculously positive guy for the most part (At least I think so!), but even for me it's tough.
This week, with so many important people in my life suffering so greatly, I've had Samsara on my mind heavily. As the first of these things came to my attention, I rallied around the persons and buoyed them. Later, as I learned of the suffering of a few of the others, I spread my support a little thinner, mentally speaking of course. In the last few days, as the problems kept mounting, I've found myself a little more distracted. At first I didn't realize it. Eventually, I recognized (as I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be able to do) that my mindfulness was suffering and my thoughts were sliding away from the areas that needed them (such as compassion and equanimity), and more toward areas that I can do nothing about (such as fixing these problems for people, as I am wont to do). I've caught myself, a few times this week, just bitching and whining about it saying some things very uncharacteristic of me, such as "Man, this sucks!" or "Jeez, she can't catch a break!". I don't usually think in these terms. Even before Buddhism came in to my life, I didn't tend to get down about things much, but these days I rarely ever think like this.
So, I guess this post is really about compassion and equanimity. I was tweeting with a buddy of mine @SamsaricWarrior this evening for the first time in a while. I had seen he was experiencing some sort of health issue and asked him about it. He's the aforementioned person with heart troubles. I only know Michael from Twitter and Facebook, but he's what I call "a good cat". He tends to start the day off with a tweet to the world somewhere along the lines of "Good morning, me lovelies!" or some other positive thought.
|@SamsaricWarrior - Good Cat.|
What a badass.
Then, when I asked how serious it was. He says "Well, you can hear it make lovely scary noises if you're standing within 5 feet of me in a quiet room. I have 2 valves that are fighting each other and every day it gets harder to catch my breath. Doctors are struggling to pinpoint the problem. So for now it's tests, meds, and more tests. But like I said, it's all good. I don't let it bother me and just focus on my breath. We all suffer in some way. This body is just a shell. I just hope that whatever happens, I can continue to try and help others."
What a total, Samsaric Warrior Badass Mother Effer. (It says so on his wallet.)
Anyhow, this conversation snapped me back to the present moment, collected all the concerned thoughts of my friends in to a neat pile and brought in to focus the fact that all I can do for all of this suffering is support my friends with lovingkindness and skillful behavior. For myself, I must continue to practice, sit with all of this, and meet it all with compassion, equanimity and mindfulness. Thanks for your practice, @SamsaricWarrior, and for reminding me that I got ninety-nine problems, but bitchin' ain't gonna be one!