A few days ago I was on a tram heading for the city, sitting quietly with my thoughts and observing the different people around me. Some were engaged with their phones, others with their friends and some like me just sat quietly, heading to their destination.
Suddenly the young woman on the other side of the aisle said, “Excuse me” and began talking to me in an animated way about the trials she was facing with two people in her life. She was at pains to let me know that she always treats people well and had not done anything to these people, but they were not treating her with respect.
I experienced her urgency and anger, her need for someone to hear her case. I noticed my own anxiety about where this might be heading. As I listened I continued to pay attention to my own physical and emotional responses - to the thoughts arising and the fluttering of anxiety in my belly. At the same time in my mind I began to send her loving-kindness and compassion. After about five minutes of an intense one-way conversation in which I said only a few words, she abruptly got up, said, “thank you for listening” and left the tram.
Sometimes all we need to do for another is to meet them with a compassionate, open awareness and hear their story.