WHITNEY CAIN, PHD

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Pores, Deservedness, and a Little Compassion

Against my better judgment and my policy of not knowing more than necessary about my pores, I got a magnifying mirror. This LED encircled monster illuminates things I never considered, like eyebrow hair better called “eyelid hair” and freckles putting Pippi Longstocking to shame.

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Although I remain unconvinced about the utility of knowing these things about face, there’s no going back now. I can’t un-see what I’ve seen, but there is big discomfort in acknowledging this stuff is mine.

For all my work towards compassion for self and others, I still struggle with the not so pretty parts of us. I know I’ve made heaps of progress, but it remains easier to open my heart to polite, aesthetically pleasing aspects of myself and others versus the belligerent, unattractive ones.  And yet I remain convinced the real gifts are found through compassion for our own and others’ messiness.

There’s a homeless guy at our church who (no judgment) smells like a washed-up horseshoe crab.  He’s not big on personal space and can rant and rave. On the few occasions we’ve talked, he steps forward when I step back, so I’m left skittering against a wall in effort to find fresher air and escape his monologue.

What’s most uncomfortable for me, though, is not his close stance or his malodourous-ness or even his lengthy diatribes.  It’s seeing all of his need and want right next to all of my privilege.  It’s in the deep knowing that neither of us deserve what we have, we just have it.  Certainly, I’ve worked for lots of what I’ve got, but I’ve been given just as much.  I can’t say I deserve my luxuries any more than he deserves his lack.  What I know both of us deserve, though, is to be seen in our completeness and complexity. And just like I can’t un-see my pores and freckles, I can’t un-know this deservedness.  

I’ve decided the next time I can, I’m going to try to really see that guy.  He might rave me right into a wall, but that’s fine.  Really seeing him means dropping expectations that either of us will change a wit because of my small act.  Really seeing him means remembering the times I’ve raved to be seen with compassion and acceptance versus judgment and expectation.  Really seeing him means knowing we more alike in our messiness than we are different in any way.

I’ll let you know how it goes, but right now I have some pores to count.

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Photo Credit:  Luvmissile. (n.d.).  Vanity mirror with bulbs.  Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/

Whitney Cain