Viewpoint: Compassion for who we were, who we are

by John P. Morgan | Special to the Courier

I went to an estate sale recently in my hometown of West Covina. The sale was on Lark Ellen — a street I am very familiar with. I got in line (I was number four) and I realized that I had forgotten something in my car, so I asked this very nice man if he would hold my place while I went back to my car.

And as I was walking to my car on this rather cool and cloudy day, I had a flashback of me as a kid walking up Lark Ellen to go to school. It wasn’t a specific flashback, but more of an amalgam of all these different scenes of me walking up this all too familiar street. And I could feel my heart starting to swell and tears were forming in my eyes as I thought of that kid; a skinny kid with sandy blonde hair, California tanned skin, wearing a Hang Ten shirt, Levi’s, and Keds sneakers, and I felt this wave … a literal wave of compassion for that kid and what he was going through at this particular time in his life.

I felt like there was literally no space between the “then” and the “now,” that the compassion I was feeling toward that younger version of me was received and suddenly that kid felt better about his life and his situations; that kid made new decisions and new choices from that love and compassion I was “sending” him, and it altered everything in his life including the life I am currently living.

And I got back in line and the guy who was holding my place looked at me and said, “Are you okay?” which I thought was an odd thing to say to someone he only knew for five minutes. The feeling of having an expanded heart was still prevalent, and from that expansion I just smiled and said, “Yes. I am alright. Thank you for asking.”

And I realize that is what I wanted most as a kid; I wanted to be asked if I was alright. I wanted to be seen and heard and I wanted to be noticed. I was tired of always being picked last for teams. I was tired of pretty girls my age being interested in other boys but never me. I was tired of being the funny one but never anyone who was valid enough to be taken seriously. But now, now it was all different.

The woman I asked to be my wife was one of the first people who ever admitted to just liking me for me. It wasn’t just because I was funny, creative, or “good looking.” It was because I was me and I had a place marker in the universe that could never be erased, as did she, as do all of us.

On May 19 Tracy and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary. Exactly a week from that day is our daughter Helena’s ninth birthday. These are two things I never foresaw in my future when I was a shy young boy who thought nobody really noticed. But here I am both a husband and a father. And guess what? I suck at both. No, no I don’t. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t.

When I was going through a crazy bout of spiritual ecstasy about 32 years ago and I was literally devouring books on the subject while also learning to meditate and “downloading” new ideas regarding my art, poetry, and other creative pursuits, I came across a quote by Joseph Campbell that I still think about every day in some way:

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

And that’s it. That’s exactly it. We get to be who we are. We get to experience what we experience. We get to choose thoughts, ideas, and beliefs and derive feelings from those thoughts and have those feelings turn into actions and have those actions turn into a life and whoa … take a step back and notice the ripple effect that your life experience has had on everyone and everything. You will only see partially because humans deal in partialities, but trust me, everyone and everything has benefited because of you and because of me. This is not a glorified ego trip. This is humility.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit (humility and grace) for they shall see God.”

It’s all clear we were all meant to be here from the beginning. And yes, that’s a paraphrased song lyric. Have compassion. Have confidence. And be your best self because you already are that best version.

John P. Morgan is a 15-year Pomona resident and a retired elementary school teacher and counselor turned vintage dealer at Steamjunk Vintage Oddities.


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