Turning suffering into compassion

Woke up. Got ready for a long walk. Placed a key in my pants pocket. Looked for my wallet. Where’s my wallet? Not where I usually keep it. Not anywhere to be found. I walk and meditate with a friend on Mondays and it was time to leave and walk up to Mt. Davidson. I had time to think about how I was feeling – trying to keep the panic down. I’m getting ready to travel and need my credit card, driver’s license, and medical card. The fear of not being able to replace these in the next three days is manifesting in real physical symptoms. My heart is racing. My stomach feels tense. I feel that hand tingling sensation that comes with anxiety.

I don’t cancel my walk. We walk and talk over Skype. My walking partner is in the UK. She tells me her news. I raptly listen. I tell her my news. Then we commence our 30 minute walking meditation. Ordinarily my walking meditation includes just sensing, feeling, and being. If I find myself thinking I just take a big breath and think the words: “sensing, feeling, being,” but today, there was just thinking, thinking, and more thinking. What if I can’t find my wallet? What an idiot I am to feel this bad about a mere wallet. What sort of person am I? Maybe I could use this sensation to have more empathy for others who are suffering, for whatever reason. If I feel this bad about a wallet, how do people feel when they are given a grave medical diagnosis? when they have a panic disorder? when they are grieving? unsure? scared? Use this time. Use this sensation to understand others’ suffering. Remember how you are feeling. Don’t forget.

I returned home, emptying drawers from my dresser, looking in my suitcase, going over and over the same areas of our two room living space. I go through a travel bag for the fourth time and find a zipper that I forgot to unzip, and voila! There was my wallet. What a relief. And what a lesson!

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