Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I am a compassionate person. The suffering of others bothers me. I hate seeing someone vulnerable, sick, sad, in need. I wish I could help everyone who needs help. I wish I could give money to all the charities that need assistance. I wish people didn't have to be disabled, in wheelchairs, mentally challenged, autistic, in hospitals, in chemotherapy, obese, poor, or any of the other things that make us hurt inside, or make life harder. Poverty bothers me. Seeing people without the luxury of a warm home, food, love.

Riding the train every day, I see my share of damaged people, sad people, angry people, alone people. I see the homeless, the working poor, the people with mental health issues, the drunk, the unloved. I wish I could save them all, give them something, anything to make their lives easier. Love them, give them a safe home, an environment with people in it who care for them and take care of them.

I feel for the human condition, for people who aren't smart enough or pretty enough or funny enough or rich enough or provided-for enough to make the grade, to make the cut, to get the things they want. For example, I am sure there are millions of people who are perfectly happy not being beautiful (me, for instance), but I think about all the people who's hearts ache daily because they didn't win the genetic beauty lottery and in fact, didn't even get a single number. I am lucky - I got a couple of the numbers - enough at least to make me pretty enough to be consistently ignored in public. Which is better than being gawked at for being ugly. Which is also better than being gawked at for being beautiful - which in my opinion is sad too because people want you and love you for the wrong reasons.

Life isn't fair. I learned that a long, long time ago.

I grew up with an alcoholic rage-aholic father and my childhood was full of fear and walking on eggshells and insecurity and anxiety. There were often fights and threats of someone leaving, violence and things getting broken, always loud voices, yelling, things being slammed. Racing hearts, being awakened in the night, police cruisers in the driveway. Life wasn't fair because it didn't give me a mentally balanced father, a *normal* father. But Life over-compensated by giving me a wonderful mother who shielded me from what she could, from what she was able, for her young age, to do. She is my hero. So I got lucky in that way.

But maybe that childhood pain and the struggles my father had was some kind of blessing. It is hard to find the blessing when your heart aches for your mother, when you are powerless to help her, to save her, to give her the life she really deserves, one pure and perfect and fine, like she is. It is hard to find the blessing when you see your father suffer also with the hand he was dealt, which seems, as time goes on, to have been no fault of his own.

It was hard to grow up in a house which was full of motherly-love and fatherly hard-work and pride, but also the counterpoint - alcoholism and emotional and physical violence. It made me very, very strong. And very, very angry. And very, very weak. Weak in that I have a very sensitive character - things bother me, I feel for others, I worry, I cry easily when I see people suffer. I feel and experience the vulnerability and frailty of others. I feel their pain. So I am many different, contrasting things. I can be a tough, hard person, but I am also soft and sensitive under the shell. I don't put up with shit and I speak my mind but inside I want to be liked and seen for who I am - which is a soft and good-hearted person. A person who seems to feel so incredibly much.

But I am thankful. I want to acknowledge my roots. My life has been what it needs to be. There are lessons I needed to learn, boundaries I needed to set, places I needed to see, things I needed to learn, things I needed to feel. And the future will hold more challenges and more pain, I am sure. I am afraid of it, but like the Buddhists, I will try to embrace it as my experience and not judge it. This is a full time job, to feel and not to judge yourself to be suffering. As I watch the suffering of others and feel the suffering I do inside (much of which is self- inflicted), I am slowly learning that this is the human experience, that this is the gift.

Hollywood and all its self-adulation and glorification of the wrong things isn't what life is about. Life is about living in a way that is true to you, appreciating what you have, caring and feeling for others, and working and planning to improve the life of others and yourself. It isn't about having a perfect ass or a perfect outfit. It isn't about weighing 105 lbs and having a tv show. It isn't about being smug and self-important. It isn't about driving a BMW "M" Roadster (which I did yesterday and it was amazing). All that is nice, but life is about being awake. Feeling. Loving others. Learning to love yourself and stop judging yourself. Learning to stop hurting the one person you shouldn't hurt - you. Learning to stop feeling sorry for yourself. Feeling sorry for others, but only long enough to help them, or at least to reflect on what their life might mean as a lesson for your own. It is about experience and reflection and not judging whilst still doing your best, even if no one is watching. But mostly it is about being thankful and not squandering the paradise you've been given.


  1. beautiful. insightful. poetic.

    thank you for these words.

  2. matteo 8112:22 pm

    Wonderful, I share the whole post.
    I passed a hard childhood too and i'm slowly recovering.
    I think too that this can be really a gift.

  3. Just beautiful. Thank you.

  4. Terri,
    I was just browsing through your archive and when I read this post I was really moved.
    When you describe your childhood with your father, it could be me talking.
    I know that I'm not the only person ever to experience a drunken father but to actually read somebody else's words in black and white somehow made me stop in my tracks.
    Thanks for sharing this.
    Racheal x