This morning I was walking my dog when we passed a young mother struggling with her toddler. They were standing on the corner and the little girl was refusing to take her mother’s hand to cross the street. Against the girl’s screeching cries of no, no no, the mother was quickly losing her cool. She was grabbing at the girl and trying to push a plastic scooter at the same time.
Finally she yelled, “Look how hard this is for me!”
Well, I looked. And I saw not only her struggle but my own. How perfectly her words captured my state of mind. Whether I’m flailing against my writing, overwhelmed by parenting, or simply carrying or doing too much, I often want to shout those same words to someone, anyone.
Look how hard this is.
The little girl didn’t look, listen, or care. And I’m also her—a screaming child who doesn’t understand why I even have to cross this particular street in the first place. Like that little girl, I lack the capacity to take a more mature view, or to grasp that there may be a larger, wiser force that knows where I’m going and how to get me there.
I left the mother and daughter and kept walking, my dog pulling ahead and straining on her leash the way she does when she rounds the last corner toward home. Looking at her, I wondered, wouldn’t life be easier if we could be like a dog instead of like parents or children? Imagine life as a panting, eager bundle of unconditional love, secured by a leash, with an innate ability to find the way home.
The truth is that I am all three: the parent, the child, and the dog.
The idea of Oneness reminds me that there are no others. Nothing exists independent of outside conditions. And no single component is more important than another.
That can be hard to hear when I want to feel important, or when I’m at the end of my rope and just want to be recognized for my efforts. Even when, dammit, I just want to get to the other side of something.
The Buddha said it best: Life is hard. How can we be anything but kind?
So this kindness is for the mother and the daughter on the street corner, and for you, too: You’re doing a great job. Just keep going.