I just met her, a little woman with a sweet smile. She is depressed. Very soon, she tells me her story. Her only son was killed two years ago. Ran over by a bus. And only sixteen years old. She recounts the whole scene. How she got home that night, and not seeing him, thought he had taken the dog out for a walk. Then found the dog in the laundry room, wagging its tail. She wondered, where is he? Then the phone rang, and a man's voice asked to speak to her. Something had happened to her son, and she needed to come right away. The stranger would not tell her more details. "I was shaking so hard, I don't know how I made it there." On her way, she kept hoping her son had only gotten hurt, nothing bad. Then she saw him lying on the ground, and she knew. She wanted to know who, who had done this to her son. She wanted to kill the bastard. They pulled her away.
Today, she is still trying to cope. I asked her what has helped. "Going to groups and listening to other people. When you think you have it bad, you realize there is always someone else with an even worse story."
Sitting this morning, I had felt my own grief, and a twinge of self-pity. I had reasons. And I remember wishing away the misery.
When I left my new friend, there was only compassion in my heart, and hardly any trace of my earlier angst.
Next time you feel sorry for yourself, have a taste of Gotami's medicine, and look around, and take the time to feel someone else's pain. It works.