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Strength, suffering & kindness

Friday, July 22, 2011

I was wondering what it is about some people that I find so attractive. I'm not really drawn to people who meet the stereotypical standards of beauty, and I can think of a couple of reasons for that.

One reason might be that, even though I have terrible vision, I didn't wear glasses or contacts until I was 19, and perhaps my inability to see (and therefore judge) people's attractiveness was delayed. Once I got to know someone, I could find them attractive, but before that, they were just another blur.

Another reason is that many of the so-called beautiful people I've met have had terrible personalities and are quite self-absorbed. Not all of them, of course, but a very high percentage. You know those studies that show that good-looking kids get better treatment and grades in school, and then grow up to get better jobs, more money, etc.? It may be that the better looking a person is judged to be, the easier their life is. It may even be that those who are considered beautiful don't have to work as hard on developing their personalities.

Isn't it our struggles that make us stronger and wiser? Some of the roughest times have taught me the most compassion. I remember being really broke when I was young and walking into a store literally counting my pennies. At least I had pennies (and I live in a country with adequate social supports, so I never really had to worry about going hungry or being homeless). That experience radicalized my politics and taught me an inside view of poverty.

I also lived through being temporarily disabled. I couldn't walk without pain, and had to have a commode beside my bed because I couldn't make it to the bathroom on time. It gave me a completely different view of disability and chronic pain. Before that, I worked for a few years helping people with disabilities, so you'd think I would have understood what that life entails. It's one thing to bathe someone and wipe their bum; being the person who can't wipe their own bum…. I can't even describe it.

While I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone, I'm grateful for it. It gave me a level of compassion that I'm not sure I could have gotten any other way.

I could go on listing difficult experiences and what they've given me. I think this may be what CATS_MEOW_0911 meant when she wrote "Weight loss is often accompanied by greater wisdom in our lives." Maybe you have to get to know yourself better if you want to make the kind of profound changes that are required to change your habits and therefore your body.

Maybe not; maybe some people do it purely by changing their behaviour, not their attitudes and beliefs. But most people regain the weight they lose. Perhaps doing the the inner work is one of the keys to maintaining? I'm just speculating here!

Sometimes I've been treated shoddily because of the weight I carry, and I'm grateful for that too. Really, I've had more than my share of good luck, what with my loving family, living in one of the most beautiful and safe countries in the world, being strong, capable and healthy. Blessings galore!!! If I'd been skinny my whole life, things would have been different. Things might have come much more easily. If I had never been fat, who knows what kind of arrogant puss I might have turned into!

So why am I attracted to some people, and not others? I'm drawn to confidence and a certain intensity -- not a frantic intensity, but a kind of power and…sharpness. Someone who's really present or, as my mom would say, 'really with it.' And I'm attracted to people who are healthy.

So then I wondered if it's mental or physical health that I find so appealing. It's both. They're really connected, because when one's mental health isn't good, it can be really hard to take the steps necessary to work on physical health. And of course, taking care of oneself physically can lead to better mental health. Interdependent, eh?

Strength, pain and kindness are interconnected too. We can gain strength from surviving painful experiences. And if we're lucky and we're treated with compassion when we're suffering, we can learn firsthand how important, how valuable, how wonderful kindness really is.

P.S., Here's CATS_MEOW_0911's blog that I quoted above.

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  • no profile photo CD7144331
    Another great blog. I totally agree with Kaligirl.
    3301 days ago
  • no profile photo CD7651842
    WOW ! I may become a fan. I love this one, too.
    3301 days ago
    Makes sense - healthy, confident people love life!
    3307 days ago
    I LOVE this blog!

    You have expressed yourself eloquently in a way that many of us can identify with. It's a shame that we have to go through experiences that we'd rather not, to learn compassion on a whole new level. It's a shame that we can't learn these lessons more easily, but then we probably wouldn't learn them as well. We did learn though and therefore are wiser and better people.
    3309 days ago
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