I received a simple letter in the mail: my retirement savings will be transferred to a new company. My first reaction: fear. Fear of change and uncertainty. Since my mom's death I feel a heaviness in my chest—pain that feels solid; more solid than anything I've ever experienced. My first reaction: fear. What if this pain never ends?
In small and large ways, we're all impacted by uncertainty; we're all affected by loss. Our pain, as well as our happiness, connects us. Naomi Shihab Nye writes about this in her poem "Kindness" (excerpted here):
For me to know sorrow, I must face fear. I can't know sorrow as the deepest thing inside if I remain afraid. Each time I dip into grief, something shifts and softens. It's not as solid as fear wants me to believe. And if I don't open my heart to deep sadness, then I can't open my heart to wondrous joy. If I don't embrace uncertainty, then I never feel peace.
We humans resist pain. But in that very resistance we give up so much: compassion, kindness, presence, and ease. As we move toward pain, opening our heart to ourselves, we move toward love. The unprotected heart is vulnerable but it's also expansive and free.
I see your hardship and suffering. I see the size of the cloth. In response, I open my heart to everything—uncertainty, loss, contentment, and love. It's only kindness that makes sense anymore. Kindness inward and kindness outward.