When I was growing up, I don't remember many kids that had allergies, asthma or any respiratory health challenges. As I progressed through life, I'd encounter people with allergies or asthma and I couldn't quite understand the depth of the issue. Being unfamiliar with it, I found that I tended to assume that those issues weren't all that serious. It wasn't until very recently when the air quality in my area of the country turned quite bad due to several fires burning.
One of my co-workers, Bob, has severe asthma and couldn't come into the office because the poor air quality exacerbated the symptoms. I observed a different co-worker,Trudy, express with full conviction that Bob wasn't really sick, it was all in his head. I recognized that I had shared feelings similar to Trudy's, but also recognized that when Trudy expressed, it wasn't with compassion or sympathy - it was out of ignorance. It was easy to see my own reflection in how Trudy expressed. Often, we need to see things in others before we can see them in our own selves.
I was reminded of this very powerful section in Tae Yun Kim's book, The Silent Master:
"As you go about re-identifying yourself, you will need a lot of patience and compassion to change. You have spent many years forging the personality you have, and you will now ask certain aspects of yourself to go."
Likewise, I've spent many years accumulating perceptions and understandings that may not be correct. I recognize that if I exercise compassion for the things I do not understand, that allows me to be open to learn more. If I assume that I already know, then my mind is closed and nothing more will enter, and I won't be able to change or adapt.
Dr. Tae Yun Kim refers to this often as having an empty cup, and writes: "the willingness to be open and receptive to a new concept of your self and a new life is an attitude that I call the empty cup...have a large empty cup! Let your cup be ready to hold many new things."
It's pretty amazing to discover that so many things I "learned" when I was a kid aren't necessarily 100% accurate. And, even more amazing, the choice is in my hands whether I want to hold on to those outdated perceptions, or form new ones based on current experiences. (I definitely choose the latter!)
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