Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘empathy

Relief Comes

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The temperature climbed above zero (F) yesterday. Given the reference point of the biting cold that we have been subject to for the last couple of weeks, stepping out into the February sunshine felt remarkably comfortable. Warm, even. Though it really wasn’t.

Just a little relief from the hunched clenching posture we and the chickens have been maintaining opens up a surprising amount of renewal in mind and body. Rocky and the hens were taking full advantage of the sunny wall on the end of the barn where we clear the snow for them.

Cyndie said the yellow Buff Orpington visible in the background of the image was digging in to take a little dust bath.

In a crazy coincidence of timing, Cyndie sent me a text about how big the icicle had grown from the corner of the barn roof. I suggested she knock it down proactively to avoid it falling unexpectedly. By the time she arrived to tend to the task, it had already fallen on its own.

Apparently, the frozen stalactite sensed our plan just as we were hatching it and took matters up with good old gravity to save us any extra trouble.

I struggle to reconcile a mixture of glee and guilt over the relative good fortune we are enjoying compared to the weather much of the rest of our country is suffering. The extreme cold we have dealt with is something we have lifetimes of experience and knowledge to cope with, while the cold and snow disrupting life in Texas and beyond is bizarrely out of the ordinary for them.

I feel for the hassles they are dealing with while also being grateful we have been spared a similar level of calamity.

May the southern states appreciate how quickly their climbing temperatures will melt the uncharacteristic amounts of snow that have fallen on them as we endure the typical long, slow transition from winter to spring our latitude abides.

Either way, relief does eventually come.

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Written by johnwhays

February 17, 2021 at 7:00 am

Allowing Happiness

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We did it! We have arrived at the last day of 2020, bowing respectively for the sad number of others for whom the year would become their last.

There you have it, right there in the opening lines, my perpetual dilemma. It is time to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, but how can we celebrate in the depths of this disastrous pandemic? How did the people of downtown Nashville celebrate Christmas when the morning dawned with a terrorizing suicide bombing?

It’s not easy. But I’ve come to value the challenge of allowing for happiness amid a world of sorrow. Doing so is more worthy than the alternative of not cultivating joy simply because of all the things that continue to be wrong in the world.

I weep for those who are in pain, poverty-stricken, devoid of love, homeless, country-less, hungry, lost, forsaken, oppressed, unjustly imprisoned, or ill of health. Would that there comes a time when all people are free of the worst of possible situations.

It is reality that for every grand success of accomplishment worthy of celebration throughout history, someone, somewhere, was simultaneously suffering. For far too long in my life, I couldn’t reconcile the complicated mental gymnastics of untangling the two opposite realities that coexisted.

It has taken me a lot of practice to reach a place where I feel okay about allowing myself to be happy in the midst of an unhappy world. I don’t have any concise trick to offer toward how I achieve this milestone. I would say the primary factor is probably my developing a tenacity to repeatedly remind myself I am allowed to feel happy. Our happiness doesn’t automatically devalue the sorrow of others.

Maybe there is a trick. I would say it has to do with love. There I go again about loving others. If I am cultivating love for all people, my joy is not callously disregarding others who are hurting. I can feel their pain while experiencing my happiness. We are complex organisms, able to do more than one thing at a time.

We can celebrate the end of a difficult year, feel joy for our blessings, revel in the mysterious greatness of the universe, bask in the love of family and friends, and spread love to those who aren’t feeling it.

Bring on the new year. May it provide oodles and oodles more happiness for all!

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Written by johnwhays

December 31, 2020 at 7:00 am

Embattled Planet

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I do my best to send love out into our world, but lately it feels a little short, in terms of effectiveness.

We had a lovely time out to dinner with family in downtown Minneapolis last night to honor Julian’s birthday. I’ll give a happy shout out to Randle’s restaurant on the Nicollet Mall. Nothing pretentious about a straightforward menu and lots of sports on tv screens covering the perimeter walls.

This is the view I had coming home, and this is about as clear as it looked to my weary eyes:

During the long drive home, I was basking in the afterglow of the wonderful time we had, while also contemplating the attention grabbing headlines of catastrophic weather and geographic cataclysms. With hurricane Maria wreaking havoc in the Caribbean and the severe earthquake that occurred in Mexico, previous travails get overshadowed, yet are no less deserving of continued support.

From the challenges of renters forced to continue paying rent for unlivable properties in Houston and Florida in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, to the cholera outbreak in Yemen during their civil war, and the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya muslims in Myanmar, as well as everyday ongoing poverty and homelessness, there seems to be no end to the struggles around our globe.

I get to sleep in a comfortable bed, with a safe roof over my head, blessed with spectacular late-summer weather seeping in through an open window.

I don’t deserve to have it so good, and it makes it hard to fully immerse my mind in the blissfulness when others suffer so.

Sending love to all the aforementioned, as well as to all others with needs, known and unknown.

Would that it be that each loving intent we project out into the world would have influence enough to make some measure of difference, no matter what challenges others are facing.

Put more simply, I hope it helps.

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Written by johnwhays

September 21, 2017 at 6:00 am

Comes Around

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Last year, when I was home full-time, I often looked forward to the moment when Cyndie would arrive home from work and cruise up the driveway where she could see the results of my day’s effort on some project or another. Of course, this only worked if she made it home before dark, which is a tough thing to do during the period when the sun sets before 5:00 in the afternoon.

Sadly, more often than not, I would need to prompt for some feedback, and the response tended to reveal that she hadn’t noticed a thing. After the long commute, just reaching the driveway safely becomes the primary milestone of note, which tends to swamp the senses and blur specific details that may have been noteworthy.

Yesterday, after I pulled up the driveway, I did see the horses grazing in the hay-field nearby, but after that, pretty much a blur. I found Delilah waiting on the other side of the door, as I walked into the house, but no Cyndie. After a wonderfully happy greeting from our dog, I watched her move to the doors beside the fireplace which provide a view beyond our deck to the back yard hill that slopes down to the labyrinth garden.

With no leaves on the trees, it was easy to spot Cyndie pushing the reel mower on the path of the labyrinth. Delilah anxiously followed her master’s every move in the distance. That dog really bonds with the person who is home with her all day.

When Cyndie eventually made her way back up to the house, she promptly asked me how the place looked when I pulled in.

Busted.

I hadn’t noticed all the work she had labored to accomplish on her own while I was away. I felt awful to have missed it, and I gained a new appreciation for what it was like for her last year, before our roles became reversed.

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Written by johnwhays

November 3, 2015 at 7:00 am