I’m the main breadwinner in my family, and have been for many years. My husband started his own business a few years back, and we’d just paid off the debt from startup costs when the pandemic hit, leaving me functionally unemployed. We had wisely left our rainy day fund intact, and it should get us through the fall; after that, unless I can work again, we’re going to be in some trouble.

We’re able to cover just the fundamentals – rent/utilities, insurance and basic groceries. It’s a level of frugality I haven’t experienced since my student years, when a Starbuck latté was a huge splurge. There are a lot of rice and beans on our menu these days, and I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t a struggle sometimes to wrap my mind around how life has changed.

I’ve addressed the concept of comparisons on this blog, and I stand by my basic thesis that they are unhelpful at best, and can increase suffering at their worst. We can’t compare ourselves to others because while all humans feel fear and pain, and we all experience it in a different way, regardless of situation. And whether we are better or worse off than others, feeling bad about our situation in comparison to them doesn’t help us, and it doesn’t help them.

Finally, as a Buddhist, I don’t subscribe to the Judeo-Christian notion of guilt and fear as a motivation for action. Rather, it is compassion.

In the best of times, 1 in 9 Americans experiences food insecurity, and given the exponential rise in unemployment over the last month, that number has increased as well. It is heartbreaking that so many in this country are not having their basic human needs met. And while I still have food on my table, doing without the things I had before gives me even greater compassion for those who endure deprivation, and that compassion is what drives my action.

If Paul and I find ourselves under budget for our groceries this month, I intend to use that amount to support the nourishment of others. Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization and they have food banks across the country; I’ll be making my donation there. And I encourage you to support your local food bank, or any other reputable organizations that can provide support for those in need during these challenging times. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s the collection of small gestures that create big change.

How do you hold compassion for both yourself and for others? What can you do to help?

My task: to keep moving into a place of compassion. It’s hard to think about others when you are frightened for yourself. But that’s exactly when we need to direct our focus outward (it’s an ongoing process, so I can’t say it will ever be done!)

3 thoughts on “Nourishment

  1. “How do you hold compassion for both yourself and for others? What can you do to help?”

    Here in Québec (and Canada), we have United Way (Centraide), Sun Youth (Jeunesse au Soleil), the club for little breakfast (le club des petits déjeuners) and many others. I support the first three. The boss removes an amount pre-selected by me but I can change it anytime. Its deducted directly from my salary every 2 weeks.
    I do help by making some volonteering with patients left alone (family stay away, wife or husband passed away, feud in family,…).There could be many reasons. I sometimes bring my pug. He becomes the Star.
    When you help others, you help yourself as well.
    Thanks Maestra for this post. Your transparency is a courageous act that should inspire many.


  2. Wayne Zelenak says:

    I have found that fear is the greatest motivation in controlling our behavior. It is used by those in power to control the masses. I am not interested in the minutia of propaganda because it is just noise. I seek to look deeper to learn to understand. We learn the most in challenging times about the world, the universe and ourselves. The more we learn the more we can help others. I learned the powerful Japanese word “Shogania” which allows us to move forward in the worst of times and focus on the positive which inspires regardless of circumstance, and to forget that which we cannot control.

    Awareness has taught me that our life is temporary and our purpose is to seek that which brings peace and harmony. Compassion, love, understanding, and introspection are those things. People ask me how I can be so calm in this tsunami of emotions we are facing in the world. I can only explain that I am at peace with who I am and who I chose to be.


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