Have you ever fixed something, but had no idea how you fixed it? We have this clock radio and the clock part went dark. Everything else worked, but we could not see the time at night. I pushed every button on that damn clock, but nothing could make the light work.
- Bender: I take shop. You must be a f#*kin’ idiot!
- Brian: I’m a f#*kin’ idiot because I can’t make a lamp?
- Bender: No, you’re a genius because you can’t make a lamp.
- Brian: What do you know about Trigonometry?
- Bender: I could care less about Trigonometry.
- Brian: Bender, did you know without Trigonometry there’d be no engineering?
- Bender: Without lamps, there’d be no light.
One day, my wife plugs in her iPhone to the clock radio and the light comes on. So it’s fixed, but we have no idea how it got fixed. We are so paranoid about plugging our phones into the device or pressing any buttons for fear of the light going off again that we might as well not even have a clock radio.
My life was like this. I was broken, but every once in a while I’d get fixed. I’d get a nice girlfriend or I’d land a great job. I had no idea what fixed me, but I knew that at any point someone could push the wrong button and I’d be broken again.
I had a mentor in graduate school who pulled me aside one day and asked me, “Do you ever feel like you have no idea what you are doing, and you just pray that no one finds out?”
I nodded, suspecting that he had found out how clueless I was.
“The truth is that no one knows what the hell they are doing,” he re-assured me.
I used to be so clueless, not just about grad school, but life in general. I used to talk a lot about “trigonometry,” but I had no idea how to turn on a Light. Worse, I used to think and act like I knew everything, but I was really in the dark.
I don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking I know everything again, but I think I may have found the button to turn on the Light.
Like most truths, it is pretty simple:
When I think about the biggest mistakes I’ve made in life, I can attribute all of them to a lack of empathy and compassion. When we act without compassion and empathy, we hurt others and/or create enemies that want to cut us down at the knees.
It would have been a whole different story, if the boys in Steubenville had compassion for the young girl they abused. Politics in America would change drastically if Republicans and Democrats could empathize with each other. War, genocide, domestic violence, rape, and abuse would cease to exist if everyone were able to compassionately put themselves in the victim’s shoes.
So whenever something is broken in our lives, look for the empathy and compassion button. Press it over and over until the problem is fixed.
Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling.
What button do you look for when something in your life breaks? Please share.
- Us and Them (thebarelightbulb.wordpress.com)
- Celluloid Guru: 5 Films That Increase Empathy (everydaygurus.com)