The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
I am ruminating on compassion right now. Compassion for self and compassion for others. I’m having an icky evening after a very full weekend of socialization. I suspect some of the socialization has been to keep me from feeling some sadness, yet much of this weekend was arranged weeks ago. I’m tired. My body feels weird inside. I may be on the verge of a cold. All around a bit run down.
To be honest, my first instinct when I realized I was feeling icky a few hours ago was to take it out on myself. Go for a run. You’ll feel better. You could use the exercise. Just do it. Then you can take a hot shower and relax.
To be honest, I listened to my first instinct for a brief while. Then I realized– I don’t feel so great. I’m tired and need to decompress and seeing some old friends this weekend brought up a lot for me, and oh, that picture someone put of me on Facebook this afternoon made me think my face looked too fat (hello, intrusive thoughts, nice to meet you).
So I acknowledged it. Yeah, I feel icky. I’m exhausted and just came home after an hour-long train ride. Yeah, my brain is saying go exercise. That often is a great cure, but tonight I know I really want a hot shower and soup and a lot of relaxing. I acknowledged the thinking-I’m-fat thoughts and let them float on by. I made some soup. I took a hot shower. I’m here. I’m still tired. It’s okay. I’m taking care of me. And it’s okay that I still feel tired and my throat still feels scratchy and my insides still feel a little gross. Because sometimes, that’s just what it is.
I’m trying to not make it harder than it needs to be and accept whatever it is (whatever ‘it’ is) without judgment. Just let it be, like a guest in my house. When you’re mean to the guests they get mad back and don’t leave when you want them to, just to spite you. Kindness and compassion go a long way.
Especially when I direct them at myself.