Whenever I am around others, I often think of how I should treat a stranger.
Do I treat them with equal disdain and caution?
Treat them with a consistent coating of hatred?
A hatred that transcends bigotry and racism
To achieve misanthropy in its purest form?
Or rather compassion, a struggle to understand despite regrettable conduct?
More lately, as I have grown older, I have opted more for compassion.
As a child, I often had sympathy for others,
I always found something in my mind for someone to be sad about,
And in my heart, I ached for them.
When I had become older, I thought this as a means to look down on others,
And it must be stopped,
Thus sympathy was replaced with complacency
Which flared, sometimes, into anger.
This anger developed into distrust, which blossomed into disbelief,
And this disbelief gave birth to disdain.
And for a while, I could hate someone just by looking at them,
Or by witnessing them in the midst of an unsavory act.
But as an old man now,
I opt for compassion.
As a child, I believed that people should be mourned for,
As a young adult, I believed that people should be hated,
And as a dying man, I believe that people should be forgiven.
For years, I have wondered what it meant to be compassionate.
Was offering a seat to an old lady on the bus compassion?
Was tightly clasping hands with your partner during ******* compassion?
Were the two inclusive or exclusive?
Did you have to tightly clasp the hand of the old lady on the bus during ******* to show compassion?
Was compassion tough love?
Was compassion for the greater good?
Was compassion being fair?
Or was compassion allowing someone to cheat?
Was compassion the courage to tell a lie?
Was compassion the courage to tell the truth?
Was compassion knowing when to make a compromise?
Was compassion all this and more?
I think of her occasionally, on this long train ride,
On this journey to the end of the night.
What I remember of her
Is the calm sun with the thunder following it,
I remember what I wanted to do
And I remember what I did not do.
I remember her fondly,
Free of hatred, free of lust,
Free of any interpretation other than someone that I had loved.
And although there are many ways to express compassion,
This is mine for her.