Several months ago, a friend of mine met someone I was acquainted with. I listened to them go on and on about how amazing this person was, all the while biting my tongue.
The person in question was a huge factor in a dear friend’s divorce.
I’m not saying my friend’s now ex-husband was guilt-free; quite the contrary, he held just as much responsibility in the affair as the person in question did.
Yet, to my friend, this person in question is amazing. They’re funny, they’re carefree, have interesting stories, and are entertaining. He views her in a positive light. Me? My mind can’t seem to get past my dear friend calling me, crying hysterically to confirm her husband and the father of her children had been having an affair for several months with a woman young enough to be their daughter. My mind can’t seem to get past the hurt someone I know and love dearly experienced at someone’s choice to engage in an extramarital affair.
As yogis, we tend to try and live non-judgemental lives. We try and approach things with open hearts and minds, try to veer away from hard, angry words and actions. We try to find unconditional love and acceptance of scenarios, things, people, places.
Yet, I still struggle. Especially when it comes to those I love, especially when you watch the pain and hurt, not only with a dear friend, but that of her children who are missing their father. Of seeing a marriage and a life shatter into a million pieces when one of the people wielding the sledgehammer to destroy that marriage and life walks away after taunting and being cruel to one of the people in your life you love deeply.
I recently had a discussion with a friend regarding red meat, something I don’t indulge in due to how it affects me physically. “I can’t imagine not being able to have a steak. How the hell do you not eat steak?” he’d asked me, and I’d responded simply, “Your experience is not my experience.” For me, eating a steak would be doing to my body what that affair did to my friend’s marriage: I’d be a mess after, and it would be weeks before I’d feel like rejoining the world at large.
Another recent conversation with a work colleague involved them telling me that yoga just didn’t do anything for them. I was beyond confused momentarily, until I asked them what their experience was with it: 105 degree studios, instructors who barked orders at students like it was basic training, other students who had surly attitudes. And while I’ve had similar experiences to my work colleague, I had the good fortune of landing in a studio that is a love based community, where the instructors guide you, where the temperature is the optimal level to promote detox and relaxation. His experience was not my experience.
I bring all these examples up because I’ve been seeing way too much of “You’re wrong” and “I can’t believe you believe that” of late. And we need to try as a world to gain a bit more understanding, a bit more kindness, a bit more compassion. We need to channel our inner Phoebe Buffay and let people believe how they believe and feel how they feel, unless it’s going to hurt us or others.
It’s not my place to tell my friend that his new friend isn’t how she appears to him, any more than it’s my friends’ place to force red meat down my throat in an effort to show me what I’m missing out on.
Be kind. Be understanding. Be compassionate. Be loving. Make this year the one you stop, take a moment, and try and see things from a different point of view.