“Walk a Mile in The Others Shoes” – so the saying goes. Have I got the capacity to even walk a quarter mile in the others shoes – is my doubt. Quarter mile is not a long distance. I can walk a quarter mile in less than 10 minutes or even 5 minutes if I chose to, or it can take 30 minutes or even an hour. Its not so much the time it takes to walk, but how I walk the distance is the question.
How awake and aware am I in walking that distance? Walking externally with shallow breath that doesn’t fill the lungs with fresh air or missing beats of the heart that notice partial stories around, including my own – that is what I do every day.
Body in the present quarter mile, but head trapped somewhere in the field of time stuck behind 100th or even 1000th milestone, bogged on the tracks of memory of hurts, rejections, disappointments – turning the grave inside out, trying to keep the dead alive – where am I?
Certainly not present in the quarter mile to notice the changing landscape, the shapes of the clouds or the flight of the birds – my mind is hissing from the steam of memory cloud while my feet carry my body mechanically forward. I am a walking tribute to dead memory.
How can I possibly walk a mile in the others shoes when I can’t even walk in my own for a quarter mile without being fully present in the now?
The stories I create for myself are always in relationship with others, binding to others and yet incredibly isolating as they are stuck on the ‘repeat’ button in my head. With each ‘repeat’ the story is relived, strengthening the groove that I pay attention to and its generally the negative that is magnified.
I may or may not accept, understand or even acknowledge, but the track repeats tirelessly over and over on a titanium record with multiple songs of similar themes. The record doesn’t break, doesn’t worn out nor even scratch. When the tracks of my records are full of songs created by my losses either through not having a normal child, or the worries of future finances, or the guilt of not doing enough, or the resentments of how no one understands or cares about what my story is, – when the same feelings play cloaked in different clothes equally colorful and attention grabbing, how can I possibly have space on that record to play others songs to listen?
My needle either gets stuck in the grooves of the record or slips and jumps to the next groove hoping to play a different song. The beat and the melody of these songs might be different but the etchings of these songs have permanent labels that are universal on the records of every mind on this planet. The grooves of past or future trapping the ‘Songs of Guilt or Songs of Worry’.
When the needle of my focus is unpinned, the arm of time can sweep over the past and future and yet remain present. The grooves can be refilled after wiping the surface clean.
When I stop zooming in and see things through the key hole of a view finder, I am not trapped in my story. Instead if I zoom out and take a broad perspective, then I will gain the understanding that the carefully construed hopes and ambitions, miseries and sorrows, joys and anticipations, are the same songs in everyone, only singing with different melodies, rhythm and pitch.
My stories are ‘Not More Than, Better Than, Worse Than or Only Ones’ for that matter. My stories – even though different in color, size and shape, are similar to yours when it comes to the intensity of feelings. If I play at the boundaries of my story with this understanding that generates compassion and empathy, I will not impose an outcome on a relationship and be prepared for surprises.
As James Carse said “To be prepared for surprise is to be educated”and as Sai Baba says “End of Education is Character.”
So, how do I walk a mile in the others shoes?
Rumi’s poem sums it all:
“Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing,
There is a field. I ‘ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
The world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.”
Let us meet in that field beyond right and wrong with compassionate eyes of understanding and non-judgment. World will definitely be a better place.
Do you agree? Let me know………
Until next time
With Love and Respect