Thursday, April 30, 2015

Anger, Forgiveness and Compassion

A few days ago, Raghav asked me what compassion meant, and I told him how I didn't know and was still figuring it out for myself. That word has been on my mind ever since, flitting in and out like a butterfly, as I watched it come and go. And I was reminded of a beautiful para that I read a few days ago, on the website of a learning space, that stayed with me just like this little 'butterfly-word' - 'compassion'. :)
"A child sees a butterfly sitting on a leaf for the first time in her life. Her own thinking powers are being exercised at a pace comfortable to her. She is absorbing the shape, the colours, the patterns on the wings and so many more things that we cannot even imagine any more, as conditioned adults. The child is thoroughly fascinated by the butterfly. The next time she sees another butterfly she notices the same things and, perhaps, a few more new things. She might notice that this creature is so much like the one she saw some days ago. She might notice that this, too, has the same pattern on its two wings, yet it is a different pattern to the one on her last butterfly, and so on… Over time she sees more of these creatures. She continues to make her own observations, comparisons, and she begins to draw certain conclusions.

This is a deeply satisfying experience for every learner. We, as adults, need to be careful that we do not deny children these very valuable experiences and, thereby, limit their perspectives as our own have been limited by teachers who taught us too many facts too soon in our lives."
And I was quietly happy that I did not interfere with his own learning process by feeding him ideas of what I thought 'compassion' was, which would have anyways been only second-hand knowledge. I also for the first time realised perhaps that there was probably something happening inside him, which he could also not perhaps express in words, and I saw how I was happy to stay with that experience of not knowing, and enjoy the deepening mystery of my own and his inner world.
Sometime ago, we had one of Raghav's friends over for the day, for a play date. Raghav has a few deep friendships and this was one of them. It has been beautiful for me to watch the unfolding of these relationships, and the understanding that has deepened in both over time. So yes, these two were having great fun playing with each other after a long time, until of course they were having a squabble.

I was busy doing something, when I heard a few screams from the bedroom, where they were playing 'hot' and 'cold'. It is a game where each one takes turns to hide an object, and gives the other the word clues - 'hot' and 'cold' to figure out whether one is near the hidden object or far away from it. I went in to see that Raghav was flat on his stomach on the bed, and his friend was pulling him holding on to his legs, and dragging him across the bed. I thought Raghav was screaming helplessly and asked his friend to stop what he was doing. Raghav then told me that he didn't like what his friend was doing to him, but felt powerless and could not do anything. I asked his friend why he was pulling Raghav like that. He immediately pouted his lips, his eyes welling up, took Raghav by his hands, held them tight and punched him on his hands with his fist. I stopped him by grabbing hold of his hand, and told him sternly that he could not do that. I also told him :"You seem to be very angry and it seems like you really want to show your anger. But you cannot hurt another to show your anger. Please use your words to tell him how angry you are."

He stopped what he was doing and told me how he was feeling."Raghav hid it in a very difficult place. It was too difficult. I could not find it all. That is why I am angry," he said. My heart went out to him. I was torn between my son and his friend. I could see how the anger was making my son feel powerless, and I could see how his friend was so angry, and how I could not find a safe container for that anger, simply because I was not okay with it deep inside and wanted it to go away or change. I waited until Raghav was ready to express to his friend how he was feeling because of this behaviour. And then, we all decided to step aside from each other for a while and cool off a bit.

Later, I was telling both of them how I felt that they seemed to have a lot of energy that was perhaps coming out as anger, and asked if they would like to go down and use up that energy by playing in the park. Raghav did not want to go. "Well, both you seem to be getting irritated and angry very quickly now, and I am worried if I will be able to handle it again. It has been too much for me today to deal with this anger that has been coming up again and again," I shared with the two boys. Immediately, his friend said that if it was a problem for me, then he would do push-ups now and expend his energy. I was amused and touched by his care and concern. "It is my problem, not yours. I am finding it difficult to handle the anger. You don't have to do anything. I have to figure it out for myself," I told him. I really wanted to make space inside to hold this anger, but also felt helpless that I couldn't. They of course got back to playing with each other again quite soon, as if nothing had happened. And I was sure I did not want to give my son a lecture on bullying and violence or compassion and forgiveness. I wanted him to form his own ideas about them. Perhaps then, he would not hold on too tightly to them or use them as a filter through which he could see the world. Perhaps then he would know how to listen to and watch and learn from the 'butterflies'.

The following day, I asked Raghav if he had felt like hitting his friend back when he had punched him. I guess I was wondering if there were other possibilities....other ways of seeing and dealing with what had happened. And this is what my son said: "No....I didn't feel like hitting him. I don't think I will ever hit him, even if I am angry and even if he does it again. I just don't feel like doing that. I don't know why."

And there were those words, flitting around like little butterflies inside my head again....'anger', 'forgiveness', 'compassion'...maybe some day I will be able to notice the intricate patterns and the ethereal beauty of these 'butterflies', when I am still and they come and sit with me on my drooping shoulder and whisper their secrets in my ears.....

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your thoughts are please do share them....