Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 19 Gratitude: Compassion

I hate to lose.
Funny title for a post on compassion, huh?  But, I love to compete and don't like it when I lose, particularly at sports.  Today, I experienced one hell of a loss.
Hold onto your seats for this one...
Today, my partner Kris and I went to our Tuesday Ladies match and just like all matches, we introduced ourselves to our opponents, Betsy and Lee.  Both shook our hands and repeatedly asked us our names.  It became clear to us that they were hard of hearing.  This wasn't so unexpected as Betsy and Lee looked to be close to 80 years old!
When I got around to shaking Betsy's hand on the introduction, I realized that she only had one eye.
OK. This was only getting worse.
Kris and I went back to chat before our match, as normal, and we were both a little uncomfortable.  Here we were, (more than) half their ages getting ready to play a sport against these two women.  Kris told me she was nervous.  I immediately understood her nerves.
Kris is a kind person, who doesn't ever want to hurt someone else, under any circumstances.
We started warm up and it was clear that these women were good tennis players.  They couldn't move very well, but they could hit a strong ball.
After warm up, Kris reiterated her concerns to me.  I told her that I was fine playing, as long as no one got hurt.  Looking at these women, I felt that one broken hip and they would never play on a tennis court again.
Well, the match started.  These women, who could not run for balls, were playing extraordinarily.  They sliced and diced and Kris and I lost two sets in a long grueling match.
Neither of us could play our game in a way that was physically challenging to them.  We felt restricted by where and how we could hit and didn't take any risks, less we might hit them with a ball.

When we shook hands, our opponents were thrilled.  They kept repeating how much fun they had, etc.
Kris and I thanked them and then left the court.
We got to the locker room and sat down beside each other in exhausted silence.
"What the hell just happened?"  I asked Kris.
She said, "They were just great players".
I agreed that they were great players. But, what really happened out there?

I like to think that it was compassion. Compassion is considered a virtue in the Bible, as a trait that promotes individual well being.  Some consider it moral high ground, but to me, that defeats the purpose.

Compassion is ability to put someone else's well being ahead of your own wants.
It is the ability to feel for someone else and to do something with your actions.  Compassion differs from empathy, as compassion involves some action.

So, while I felt down about our loss at first, I am able to feel good about our actions now.  I am grateful that I was playing with such a compassionate partner today.  I had a very humbling experience on the court and even a loss.  And yet, I feel like we did the right thing.

And now that the wounds are no longer fresh, I have a great story to tell at the next family gathering!

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