"We are all broken vessels, infinitely precious in the eyes of God." I stumbled upon that verse from the midrash in, of all things, a frothy holiday chick-lit and it's stayed with me. It's burrowed in because it's something I need to work on.
It's easy for me to see when others lack compassion. For example, a former coworker of mine, Tom, is married to an urgent care nurse. You should hear him on people who refuse the vaccine and booster! I get it. Those who insist it's "their body, their choice" and then get sick put his wife at risk, leave his wife overworked and emotionally depleted. When they argue that therapeutics should be emphasized over vaccines, he counters that it's his wife who has to tend to them while the meds are prescribed, even though a vaccine is available and she could be spending her time helping people (especially children) recover from burns and sprains and cuts and other painful and scary accidents. He's not wrong.
But can you imagine the crippling regret one must feel who -- after having refused the free vaccine and booster -- contracts a severe case of covid? How disillusioned they must feel for believing Tucker Carlson and News Punch instead of Dr. Fauci and their own family doctor? Plus, I had covid and know even a mild case (mine was unusually long-lasting but I, fortunately, was never in danger) can be terrifying.
The folks who refuse the vaccine are broken vessels and deserve our compassion, not our scorn. (Even as they call me a "sheeple" or a "liberal vax-hole" for wanting to keep myself and neighbors safe. That misplaced anger is just another place they're broken.)
So why am I angry at myself right now? Where can I dial up the compassion? For almost two weeks now, I've had a simmering anger at my art director. Here's why.
On the morning of Tuesday, November 23, we received an email from our boss, Aaron, welcoming a new team member. Marilyn. A creative director.
What the hell? Is Marilyn our new boss, instead of Aaron? Why weren't we told?
Both my art director -- my equal, my partner, my opposite number -- and I were upset. But I said to her, "Aaron must have a good reason and a plan. He's earned our trust."
"I barely know him," she said. I was shocked. When she began her battle with breast cancer (which she handled with tremendous gallantry), he put her in touch with his mom, a breast cancer survivor. He got her the promotion she wanted, and the accompanying raise. For her to be so dismissive rattled me.
Later in the day, Aaron requested a Zoom meeting with me and the art director. He told us he was leaving after the New Year (probably January 15). He's straight up quitting, taking time off, because he's burned out. Being a creative director at a major agency during covid, and while his live-in girlfriend has taken on a new and challenging job of her own, has just left him exhausted. I get it. It happens. While I understand his actions, I was hurt that he didn't tell us before Marilyn was hired, and I know I will miss him tremendously. How did my art director respond? She started to cry. Fucking tears, at the office, and over a man she "barely knows."
I was appalled.
Later that day, in our team meeting, when we were discussing Aaron and how Marilyn would come on board, my art director began to cry again.
Wait, there's more. At our next private meeting with Aaron, just the three of us, she started up the water works again.
So which is it? Is Aaron just someone she "barely knows," or is he worth these red-faced public displays of emotion? I want to sock her in the throat
Now that is on me. I think I'm so creeped out by her tears because I was raised that you don't do that sort of thing in public. I'm also very aware that women are still considered over-emotional in the workplace and feel that three (count 'em, THREE) instances of tears at the office just reinforces that. And poor Marilyn! At the mention of her name, one of her new direct reports keep dissolving! Then there's the hypocrisy. Is Aaron someone she "barely knows," or does she truly recognize all he's given her over the past year?
But have I stopped to consider why she keeps crying over this? No.
Is she afraid Marilyn won't be as supportive as Aaron? Does she now realize that she likes him? Do I care?
Honestly, no. And shame on me. I know my art director considers me a friend, and I'm not behaving as one.
I'm a broken vessel, too. A few quarts low on compassion myself. I must work on that, and be grateful that I am still precious in God's eyes.