If we all knew the date of our departure, I feel many of us would live our lives differently, we would perhaps reschedule some of the things on our list, delete many more, and spend much more time doing the things that truly makes our hearts sing. I feel for many of us, we would probably allocate more time to family and loved ones.
The truth is, we don’t know how long we have left on this earth, and those of us that do know, can’t be assured of it until it happens. Time is a precious gift; just ask someone who knows they are dying!
When we are young we want to be older, when we are older, we sometimes want to be younger, we focus more on what we are or are not, what we want to be or not want to be. If we appreciated that time was precious we would perhaps focus it more on simply ‘being’. Being in the now, enjoying the present, the moment without hankering what tomorrow may bring.
So often people get to the end of their life before they take a life review; I encourage you to take one now, take one now while you still can, while you still have time to make some choices, while you still have time to make some important changes in your life.
One of the changes many may need to make is in the area of compassion. Ask yourself this: How compassionate have I been in my life? How compassionate am I now? How compassionate am I towards others and towards myself? Often people can truly say that they are compassionate towards others, which is fine, but if you leave yourself out of your compassion, the circle is not complete. Each and every-one of us are just as worthy of our own love and compassion as anyone else, we are no less deserving.
Just because we beat ourselves up for falling short of our own yard stick, does not mean that we do not deserve compassion. The compassionate heart forgives and offers grace to all, including ourselves.
Here I would like to share a story with you; it is a story that reflects one man’s choice to take some of his time to use compassion.
A NYC Taxi driver wrote:
“I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be the last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years, all the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said.
I took the suitcase to the cab, and then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.
‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’
‘Oh, you’re such a good boy,’ she said.
When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked,
‘Could you drive through downtown?’
‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly.
‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.’
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.
‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice.. ‘The doctor says I don’t have very long.’
I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighbourhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said,
‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.
‘Nothing,’ I said
‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.
‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one”.
That is such a beautiful story, and whether it is a true story or not I do not know; and it really doesn’t matter, what matters is the message, the message of giving, the giving of one persons time, love and compassion.
Many I am sure, would have felt irritated or annoyed about the passenger being late when we have such a busy life, or because it is the end of the shift and we just want to get home. How many of us would have felt instantly irritated and know they would have driven off? How many would have shown disapproval by way of body language? We act in these ways usually because we are under pressure, under pressure to rush, to get this done, that done, so much done in such a short time.
When we don’t appreciate time, we don’t use it appropriately, we allow much of it to slip away on unnecessary things. When we appreciate time, and the fact that our time here on earth is limited, we can take control of our time and use it to its fullest, without overload, without regrets, without stress and pressure. When we balance our time appropriately we will always have time to give compassion.
Compassion permits us the opportunity to have grace for another being, for another life. It gives us the opportunity to be the difference in another person’s life. That difference may be the difference between life or death, joy or sadness.
I encourage you all this week that no matter whom you meet, to take out of your busy schedule a mere moment to show COMPASSION.
Always Walk in Peace – Kenzo