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The last few weeks have shaken my views of the universe and my place in it. And in the midst of all this, I am trying to sift through the mounds of pain and confusion to find some small nuggets of goodness that might be worth keeping. Two things I have found are humility and compassion.

More times than I care to remember during the past weeks, I have been that crazy woman that you see on the street that walks by crying or talking to herself. I’ve seen that woman before and have avoided her gaze and told myself I would never be her and why can’t she just keep it together. And yet here I am now: the crazy lady.

So what I have learned is that the gap between me and the “other” is much smaller than I believed it to be and in the blink of an eye I can find myself on the “other” side. As they, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” But even more than that, who am I to say that the crazy lady is even crazy at all? Maybe she is just having the worst day of her life. What do I know of her reality? But I don’t even need to take such an extreme example. The mother unable to control her screaming children, the frustrated, unfriendly cashier at the supermarket, the guy who cuts in front of me to get off the tram. Who knows what their full story is, but giving them the benefit of the doubt is the least I can do.

I know this because although I have been that crazy lady recently, I am not really crazy. I am just really sad, and sometimes the sadness spills out and at those moments I am always unspeakably grateful for the very few people who are able to meet my eye and, through some expression or gesture, help renew my belief that everything is going to be ok.

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