The case for the compassionate response

It's lovely to watch how the brain responds to stimulation.  Last night I had the chance to revisit those fabulous high school art and photography exhibits, as I'd agreed to hand out the photography awards.

The students' work was so inspiring that it's no surprise to find that in my last dream this morning I imagined a really unusual work of art: giant pieces of what looked like beach glass, mounted on posts on a wall, superimposed on an image of a beach and water which was actually a video projection: the water was rippling slowly, and occasionally a boat would pass by, or a bird or fish would disturb the surface...

So of course, when I awoke, I began imagining how something like that might be done on a smaller scale, without the video component, with normal size pieces of beach glass (did I mention I have jars and jars of beach glass?).  So I layered up several images, including a painting I did earlier this week, and began planning how I might mount beach glass onto the resulting piece.

Fun, yes.  But just as exciting to me is that my brain had clearly integrated into the dream an experience that had temporarily marred the evening for me.  There was a young man who won several awards for his photography, including a first in the state contest.  We gave him a couple of awards, too -- though not for the piece that won that first; none of us were particularly drawn to it.  I was pleased to see he was a bright and lively person, delighted with his awards but humble at the same time; the kind of likeable kid my daughters used to bring home back when they were in high school.

But afterwards, as I was walking out, taking one last look at all the wonderful images, the mother of one of the other award winners came up to me and began snarling about his piece, the one that had taken first in state, first making nasty remarks about the judges who selected it and then attacking the piece itself -- the picture was worthless, the mat was crooked, the kid couldn't draw a straight line... the venom was astonishing -- and this despite the fact her own extraordinarily talented child had also won several awards.

I left the building with all senses humming, fight or flight in full play, some part of me itching to share the story and name names.  But as I drove home I remembered the comment Ann left on my list of Mothers' Day advice on Monday: "Be kind.  Be compassionate.  Everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." 

And so I began to imagine what might drive the mother's behaviors; began to think about the pressures that would lead her to spew such venom; began picturing her held and comforted in a sort of bluish-green light like that shown in this image; picturing her calm, and cool, loved and supported on her journey.  And poof -- all that stuff zinging in my veins subsided, and I was able to release the tension it had created completely.  By the time I was back home the incident had lost all its power, and had completely faded.  Not only that, but now I can clearly see that the light I had imagined surrounding her then came back and illuminated my own soul as well.

What a beautiful case for the healing power of compassion!  Even if I wasn't able to make her life easier (there's no way I can know; I just have to trust), by choosing a compassionate response I was able to defuse her negative influence on me and even feed my own creativity. 

... so it's all good!


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