This morning I had a dream about a wind storm that was lifting and rocking an old farm house in the middle of a city on a dark night. I was a young man in a large bedroom with a king sized bed and a young woman with long dark hair was talking with me about the storm. It reminded me of my life just before I got married. I was free and lonely, but learning so much. I thought about how unaware I was of my affect on others and how others perceived me, and how hard life is for young adults trying to figure out a balance in life, how to form true relationships based on honesty and not on image, how to be true to yourself and be aware of others. It is so hard. I remember being in constant turmoil internally. So if you know some young adult who is rude or selfish or flakey , try to look through the behavior to struggle that is probably masked by the arrogance. You don’t have to excuse the behavior, young adults need appropriate feedback to grow. You just need to be constructive and patient, but not patronizing. I know I could have used a little care and outreach at that point, and I’m sure there are many young men and women struggling with the same issues.
I woke up to a very calm crisp autumn day. The dream disturbed me as I confronted the child I was in my early twenties. Its hard to look back at younger self and see the struggle and pain and know that people could have reached out and didn’t. If we can look back and see ourselves with all of our imperfections and still love ourselves as we were, we can be present and helpful for the people who come into our lives now. This is true for wherever you are in your life. If you are a teenager, you can have empathy for children. If you are a young adult you can reach out to teenagers. But it involves having empathy for your younger self and not simply saying, “Well, I survived. They will too”, or “God, I was so stupid,”or simply being embarrassed and trying to forget or cover it in some nostalgic reverie. Try to remember how it felt. Look behind the behavior see the person and remember your struggles. Empathy makes a better world. It makes us better, stronger and more at peace with ourselves, and it starts with having compassion for ourselves in all of our times.