Companions

companions

“A good companion shortens the longest road.” ~ Turkish Proverb

Companion defined (Dictionary.com): a person or animal with whom one spends a lot of time or with whom one travels; one of a pair of things intended to complement or match each other.

This Thursday, a fellow blogger (Silvia Writes) asked readers “What type of music inspires you?” Answering her question was relatively easy yet it prompted thought about music as a significant companion. When we think of the essentials, we think about food and shelter. However, we often ignore aspects that are essential to our mental health. We do not normally think of companionship as something that’s essential. Yet research has shown that social interaction is crucial for one’s health. And music and companions are social.

When we reflect on companions we often think of a friend, a spouse, a significant other, a soul mate, an animal, a travel partner or maybe an escort.

companions2

Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches or good people and noble ventures. I like wine and cheese. I relish traveling with a curious travel comrade. And my two dogs shadow me wherever we go, often as unwitting accomplices. But these aren’t the same as having cherished human companions.

For me, music will remain a companion, an inspirational one at times. Just as time in and with Nature will always be a welcomed balm. But have you ever wondered about that human ‘match’? I do, sometimes.

Alas, before digressions co-opt this post, let’s circle back to Silvia’s question. A female vocalist who collaborates with the group Above & Beyond, Zoe Johnston, accompanies amazingly uplifting music. Here’s a clip of Zoe singing a favorite:

What is significant in a companion to/for you?

If you are wondering what contributes to making a good companion, perhaps these three considerations will help:

  1. They listen to you (and you to them). They’re not just nodding their head supportively while you talk. They are actually paying attention because they care about what you think and how you feel and what you find interesting.
  2. They have something in common. Companions have a balance of shared interests, but not in everything. Art galleries, trying new foods, hiking along a coast… What matters is some cross-commonalty.
  3. Life is a dance. Enjoy dancing (literally or metaphorically) with those who will complement your life. Bow out of the dance when it isn’t time to dance and welcome new dance partners as they join in to your life.

Image Credit: Flying Companions by Artsammich (Sam Nielson) Deviant Art

Compassionate Actions

“All change, even very large and powerful change, begins when a few people start talking with one another about something they care about.”

~Margaret J. Wheatley

It has to start with ourselves. Watching or listening to the news can be so discouraging, leaving me and possibly you asking what can be done? And we all know the answer: plenty!

There’s a reason I opened with this photo. If there were ever a natural disaster that struck the High Desert, the first action I’d take would be to ensure the safety of my two Black Labs. Period. They’re that valuable to me. Yet when nature casts her wrath, people lose not only what they most treasure but sometimes, everything.

Most of us consider ourselves to be compassionate. A dictionary defines compassion as the “sorrow for suffering of others,” and “the urge to help.” While this definition identifies compassion as feeling or desire, I am convinced that being truly compassionate is found more in the actions that result from those feelings – compassionate actions.

Compassionate actions begin with the love we have for ourselves and for others. It manifests itself in our kindness, patience, and willingness to act to relieve the pain of others. It also manifests in the empathy we feel for others and their experiences or conditions.

We can know if we are expressing truly compassionate action by two characteristics: The first is the detachment from the results of our actions. You and I act because action is needed from our connection to other human beings and our sense of the value of that connection. We act from compassion without a desire for recognition or appreciation for our actions.

The second characteristic is to extend to all, regardless of race, religion, culture or status. True compassion responds to the suffering condition wherever and to whomever it is occurring. It doesn’t have preconditions.

Compassionate actions challenge us to be human beings first. These actions provide us the opportunity to experience human connection while providing a perspective on life and clarifying what matters most or ought to matter most. This isn’t about common volunteering, everyday generosity or doing a daily kind deed. This is rooted in who we are at our core and what we automatically do when others are in need.

You don’t need a “S” on your chest.

Two questions to consider: Family members aside, what is the first “thing” you’d rush to save in a natural or man-made disaster and; When was the last time you performed noteworthy compassionate action?