Our priest is on sabbatical this summer, and he left a week or so ago to spend a week alone in the wilderness of the Sawtooth mountains. It was good to read today that he had safely completed his journey; but I noticed that in speaking of it he particularly mentioned the challenge of being alone with himself, saying one of the gifts of the time was learning to have a little compassion for himself.
I’m thinking any time we’re in a significantly different situation we have that opportunity – to watch how we behave, to see what triggers us, and where our minds go – and in that opportunity there’s always the potential for self-compassion. I’ve been particularly noticing that for myself here at camp; the number of times I’ve felt insecure or ill-at-ease; not certain what’s expected of me, or knowing without question I hadn’t quite lived up to expectations.
The challenge – for us perfectionists, at least – is to get better at knowing we are enough. It is enough that I made it to the ferry and had money to buy my ticket, even if I didn’t get there early enough to buy it in advance. It is enough to be an extra grownup and just fetch and carry, even if I can’t give specific guidance to budding potters.
It is enough to sit and sort out tangled threads when there’s no room at the table and two teachers already in place to guide the class. It is enough to smile and nod at familiar faces even if I can’t remember their names. And it was enough to keep a table of 9-year-old boys entertained, just by telling them no paper can be folded in half more than eight times; enough to help them learn to cut their chicken with a fork (and to do it for them when it was too tough).
Whatever I do here really is enough. Even if I’m exhausted from the travel and the tail end of a cold, I have something to offer – and it is enough.
Self-compassion. It’s knowing, deep down, that we didn’t just do the best we could do. We did ALL we could do. It was a noble effort.
And it was enough. Just like being able to look out my doorway and see my daughter’s tent… is enough.