Monday, August 1, 2011


Lunchtime conversation at work can be interesting. Depending who's at the table. Today I ate with the psychologists. Always thoughtful, slightly kooky and very welcoming. They have a fantastic food co-op in the staff room fridge.

Today I jumped in with a comment about #whitepeoplesproblems, ie. comfortable people talking about life's little unfairnesses. It delivered a bit of a laugh and agreement. I acknowledge that most of the whinges in my life come right down to this ... #wpp. And it fit right in with the mood of the moment.

Later I had a rerun in my head. Yes, I replay conversations later and regret being outspoken. Doesn't everyone do that?

What if they thought I would say that to one of my patients? I wanted to go back and explain - 'you know I'm only harsh with my friends, not with patients of this service.' Wait, that has problems, too. So I let it go. Well, until I sat down here anyway...

Where is that balance between being compassionate and being clear-sighted? Not mutually exclusive, I know. How can I listen attentively and give consolation for minor irritations while having the perspective to see that they are minor? How can I hear heartbreaking loss and not become blase about skinned knees?

I want to be wise as a snake and innocent as a dove. But I don't want to be naive. Sometimes complaining does need to be gently corrected. Sometimes it just needs a patient ear. And suffering is a broken-ness of heart that happens all over the place - comfortable middle-class people meet tragedy, too. Listening is harder when it is tempered with discernment and wisdom. There is not a response that works everywhere, instead I need to carve each one fresh. Shaped by the unique story that draws it out of me.

I struggle to find my balance.

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