Monday, June 29, 2009

Whoops! I forgot to be compassionate! - and a response from Peace Games' Courtney Wong

Whoa! Another week + has gone by and no posting. What's that about? Lest you think I'm sitting here in lotus position, mindfully breathing while I take on the business that is show, I'd like to share the following:

I frequently get so wrapped up in what's going on in my head that I forget to be compassionate.

That's right. Me. I can be a real jerk sometimes! For instance, I'll be on the phone with an agent, or a producer, or a casting director, and they'll say something that just rubs me the wrong way. Can you believe it? Me, Mr. Non-Judgment? Obviously there must be something really really wrong with them if it bothers me. Or maybe I'm just not being compassionate! Maybe I'm so busy being right that I'm not stopping to think about what they want!

Remember that Triumph song from the 70's, "Fight the Good Fight"? Make sure to watch this video from the 1983 Us Festival. At least watch through to the part where Rik Emmett's face is superimposed over an image of the crowd.

Damn, that guy has a high voice. What is it with Canadian singers? Regardless the message is clear: FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT! What can I do make sure I keep fighting the good fight?

I have an elaborate system of reminders that bring me back to... ommm... compassion. So that when I'm on the phone with someone who's somehow annoying me, I can stop and remember to be compassionate. I can remember what's important to me and why, I can remember to take a breath and come back to the present moment, I can remember why I must be compassionate, how it impacts me when I'm not being compassionate, how it impacts them, and how it impacts the world.

In case you forgot why it's important to be compassionate, click here.

So here are some of my reminders.

1. Buddha on the desk
2. Buddha on the windowsill
3. Pic of my kids on the desk.
4. Pic of my wife on the desk.
5. Pic of my kids and nephews on my big monitor.
6. Plants!
7. Mindfulness bell on my computer
8. Tattoo with my wife and kids' names, and red lotuses (the flower of Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion). This is a recent addition, and one that I can take with me wherever I go.
9. Inspiring quotes on my desk. Today, from Chogyam Trungpa, "This very moment is always the occasion."
10. Stacks and stacks of inspiring reading.

If this gets you excited, feel free to find your own ideas. I'd hate to think you were copying me. I especially don't want you getting a tattoo with my wife and kids' names. Or steal, if it really helps. But seriously, don't get my wife and kids' names tattooed on your arm. Seriously. Find your own damn family. Whoops! Off track for a moment.

Anyway I'd like to share one of the other most inspiring things that really keeps me on track––I got an email from our friends at Peace Games who were kind enough to forward this note from one of their interns, Courtney Wong, who's working with them through the New Sector Alliance Summer Fellowship Program. Here, Courtney discussed the posting about Keith Nobbs' experiences in his work. The picture below is Courtney, just to avoid any confusion.
"I was touched by your moving post about Keith’s experiences with compassion in his acting work. The sense of fulfillment and personal impact that Keith felt in his role as an actor, inspiring compassion and empathy in his audience is quite similar to what Peace Games works to instill in its students.

As an intern at Peace Games through the New Sector Alliance Summer Fellowship program in nonprofit consulting, I only became acquainted with the organization’s work a few weeks ago. I hadn’t previously thought about the idea of “peacemaking” and its importance as a fundamental value taught to students, but in learning about Peace Games’ rich history and work by visiting schools and talking to staff members, I realize that it’s really all about teaching students to act with the basic but essential values of compassion, understanding, and mutual respect.

This idea that you write about, that compassion is the key to having an extraordinary impact, is exactly what Peace Games teaches its students. In our classrooms, students learn about and practice these values, in order to understand that their relationships with peers, family members, and teachers must be filled with compassion, respect, kindness, and empathy. This understanding gives students the ability to have an impact beyond the one already felt in their personal relationships – a greater impact on their communities at large, which they reveal through their community service learning “Peacemaker Projects” carried out during the second half of the year.

As you noted, Keith identifies himself and his work as an important contribution, which is Peace Games’ goal for its students as well. We teach students that we must all be a contribution as peacemakers, people who make a difference, and that the differences we make should be about fostering positive changes in our communities based on compassion and respect."
If you're not already familiar with Peace Games, check out this amazing video on their work:

And thanks so much to Courtney Wong for her inspiring words!

1 comment:

  1. This is great, J! It is so helpful to hear about how other folks struggle with remembering compasion and their techniques for bringing it back into the picture.

    Thank you.