I've written before about Taoism's three treasures.
Today it's the first one, Compassion that's on my mind. Compassion is harder than it looks.
That's literally true, for an english speaking Taoist like me. There's the kanji for it. It's pronounced "t'zu" - in the phrase "it's a thing" - it's the " 'ts a" part, pronounced as one word.
T'zu means kindness, compassion, and motherliness, in Chinese. It's that state of loving gently, and purposefully. It's the sort of love that wants the best, and will patiently guide someone towards success.
The trick is, compassion means having that love for others, but also for oneself.
That is hard.
I have a daily practice of meditation and contemplation. Each day I spend time considering some philosophical, emotional, or ethical issue. Sometimes I'll work on the same thing for days at a time.
5 years ago I spent 18 months on compassion. It was grueling. Probably the biggest thing I got out of it was the realization that while compassion for others is hard, it's a damn cakewalk compared to compassion for oneself. What's more you have to have it for you, before you can have it for anyone else.
I was so glad when I got to put that contemplation behind me.
But I spoke too soon. Five years later, and I find myself striving again. I strive to be thinner, to acheive mastery of certain technologies for work, to acheive without stretching myself too thin, to nurture my relationships, to progress as an author.
None of these things are bad goals to have. Having goals isn't the issue. But I do catch myself self-shaming about my progress, commitment, and conviction.
Which of course, is no help at all. I lamented to my friend Andrea the other day that it looked like I was back in compassion school again, and how very little I wanted to be.
She gently chided me, reminding me to stop letting expectation get in my way, and just get to it.
I'm grateful to her, for reminding me of the truth. I'm worthy of my own love.