Johanna’s Week Six

After deciding that we were going to start The Bead Movement, me and Mhairi sat down at our usual café to break down how we wanted to go about the beading. Among many things, we wrote keywords to live by. ‘Compassion’ was one of mine. As with everything else, if you don’t have it on your mind all the time, the essence of how you want to live can easily slip through your hands as one goes about one’s daily matters. This week I’ve started every morning contemplating the word, in an effort to not let my busyness take over in my interactions with people.

Merriam-Webster says the word stems from the Late Latin or Anglo-French and means ’to sympathize’ or from the Latin ‘com’ plus ‘pati’ which means to bear or suffer. If I were to literally translate ‘compassion’ from the Swedish equivalent ‘medkänsla’ it would mean ‘feeling with (someone)’.

Compassion is key in how I want to be with and for the people in my life, no matter if it’s a stranger I meet outside the grocery store or if it’s a profound conversation with my sister or other close ones. Deep down, it’s a question of how we want to be for ourselves and others.

I was 21 when my father suddenly died. In an instant my world turned upside down, and my world fell to pieces. It was the most brutal, sad and devastating time in my life. From that experience I got a lot of life lessons. One of them was about compassion.

At that time when my world came tumbling down, what I above all else needed was for people to show up. For people to just sit down beside me, and be present with me. I didn’t need them to say anything at all, which oddly enough is the fear people have about going into situations like that – (’what can I possibly say?’) because nothing except ”I’m here (for you)” could help me.

What they could do for me in that moment was to help me bear my suffering. Not to lift it off my shoulders, because they couldn’t. It wasn’t about them getting into my head, heart and soul, and to feel what I felt. But what they could do was to offer and give me their support. It’s like if you plant a climbing rose, you just don’t plant it without something to cling to. You give it support, a trellis. You stand by your people when the stormy weather rolls in. By showing up you indirectly with that action say that the other person matters to you. That they took the time and valued me, that despite the devastation I was going through they didn’t pull back out of fear, but stepped up their game and stood beside me as my trellis.

My father’s death was a huge turning point in my life, but in it’s essence it is the same when it comes to everyday matters. Whether it’s about a child in school who gets picked upon or if he or she wasn’t choosen for a sports team. Whether it is about someone having had a bad day at work or if someone is getting sacked. Whatever the day hands us, what we deep down need is people who sees us for who we are, people who truly listens to us, and people who stands by us. People who stop whatever they are doing for the moment, who clears the clutter in their own mind for a minute, and just take in the other person. No matter what. Big or small. That is the person I want to be.

And for the trellis people in my life, I love you and I’m forever grateful.

Love, Johanna.

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