What You Don’t Know: Compassion & Grief on a Ordinary Day

Part 1: The woman, already annoyed her Starbucks mobile order wasn’t ready, got a little more frustrated when the milk canister was empty and while her manner was respectful, there seemed to be a tinge of contempt as she shoved the container to the barista and brusquely said “out of milk.”  Her look indicated she expected a more apologetic response. Muttering under her breath, “Monday morning rush hour, shouldn’t  more people be working?”

What she couldn’t see was one person in the back room on the phone following emergency protocol and another person on break crumpled n grief. All she saw was two people working. What she couldn’t know and didn’t know was, this was not a ordinary day. On a ordinary day, you don’t get text from someone saying I’m on my way, only to get a phone call a couple of hours later reporting that person is dead. On a ordinary day, you don’t hear about highway closures due to a fatal crash and think that you know the victim.  On a ordinary day, you don’t think it’s your last.

Part 2: An ordinary day for you can be anything but for someone else.  As an observer, I had no idea what “the woman customer” was going through. While I knew the store just learned of the death of a coworker in route to work,  I know nothing about the “woman” I just wrote about. Might she have been barely keeping it together. Might her morning cup of coffee been a grasp to do something normal in the midst of insanity? At any time, people are dealing with things that are not ordinary and you have no way to know. We are not walking emoticons, thought bubbles do not appear above our heads advertising thoughts and emotions. Carefully curated images with a gripping sound track with artful words invoke our sympathy to the point we feel compassion albeit at a distance. Where is compassion throughout the day?

Do you carry your frustration and agitation into your interactions without realizing it?  Do you take a moment to clear your of anger and irritation throughout the day? Compassion is more than feeling, it is a way of being. It’s a way of consciously living in the moment and not letting negative feelings and emotions color your subsequent interactons.  Compassion asks you to suspend judgement. This is not advocating the life of a milquetoast. Conscious compassion means you will say somethings in anger, you will yell at someone about to step into traffic, you will reprimand someone who is in a downward spiral. These are compassionate actions because your reaction is concern for the well-being of another. Everyday compassion is the clean slate, starting each interaction fresh.

Part 3:  It didn’t matter if there was a rude customer, bad day, or pure exhaustion, when you got to the counter, our gone to soon barista would greet each customer with a warm smile, cheerful laugh and a light from within. My condolences to fiends and family, may she go in love and rest in peace because on an ordinary day, she could make you feel extraordinary.

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