As we enter the season when the consumerism express begins to churn at full speed, I spend a lot of time dwelling on my favorite portion, at this point in my life, of the Tao Te Ching: "I have just three things to teach; Simplicity, Patience, Compassion. These are your greatest treasures" - Lao Tzu.
This past week, these three words have run around and around in my head, simplicity, patience, compassion. I love the concept of simplicity and embrace it in all that do. It is the simplicity of Thanksgiving that attracts me to it. The gathering of family and friends for a time of food, fun and conversation. A time for kids to hear stories from and about their parents, grandparents and if they are so blessed, great grandparents. A time to put down the screens and talk to someone face to face. Hear not only their words, but the inflection of their speech, see the emotion in their eyes and on their face. Touch someone with a hug and a kiss, connect with heart, mind, body and soul with your kin. There is no worry about buying a gift for everyone there, you are the gift! Your presence, your time, your being fully in the moment; listening, talking and most of all, feeling. There is no need to worry if you spent enough on this or that. There is no feeling bad because someone gave you a gift and you did not have one for them. There is no going into debt to show others you love them. There is no rushing here to there, running so fast that you miss the meaning of the holiday. Simplicity.
Patience. I have given a lot of thought to this word and how to embody it in my life. I have marveled at the patience of my mentors and wondered why I fall so woefully short. What I currently believe about becoming more patient goes back to simplicity. When my minds is uncluttered, I am more patient. When I don't overburden my mind with useless thoughts or too many commitments or when I am purposeful about what I take into my mind; I have a completely different result then when I do the opposite. Perhaps the most profound lesson I learned was through my sons playing soccer last fall. They were both almost brand new to the game and did not fully understand positions and a team approach. I found I got upset and impatient watching them not perform and execute as I thought they should. Then I asked them, "Are you having fun? Yes! That is all that counts." My expectations for the development of their skills was not their expectations. They are the ones playing, not me, and they were having fun. I just need to relax and enjoy them having fun.
Compassion. Jesus spoke about, taught and most importantly lived compassion. I find it very interesting that a book written more than 5,000 years ago focuses on this same topic. What that suggests to me is that compassion is so easily lost or forgotten or explained away in our minds. I am constantly reminded of the saying, No one truly knows the burdens another carries. It is so easy to react to a perceived injustice, unkindness, or snub, than to take a few minutes, breathe in and let it go. And as Jesus said, love those who hate you, bless those who curse you. Simplicity, Patience, Compassion.