I think we all face difficult decisions trying to live our best lives while fulfilling what I call ‘karmic responsibilities’ to other people and commitments that we’ve made. Sometimes it can feel like a constant pitched battle of having to choose between situations that impossibly conflict with one another, and that whatever choice we make, we will either feel guilty for neglecting our responsibilities or disappointment at missing out.
I think the truly fortunate people are ones whose passions align with their responsibilities, such as those who care for animals or children, for example. But for many of us, responsibilities like those to family or community members can often result in us feeling robbed of spontaneity, freedom and joy.
There is certainly no perfect fix for this, and it can be a constant struggle to get the balance right, so that we are not always feeling anxious or unhappy. I think at times when we feel that we have chosen to sacrifice our time, our energy over doing something we truly want to do, the most healing action we can take is to try and step back and to view it as an opportunity to revisit our shared humanity. This can be hard when we’re immersed in the midst of a challenging situation, but it’s worth considering that we are all in a continual dance of giving and taking, and the act of giving can be in response to a time when you have taken in the past, or more pertinently, you are making the space for reciprocity to occur in future when you need to ask for help and will receive it from others.
Though it can feel upsetting or draining or even a wrong choice at the time, I think when we meet our karmic responsibilities and give, we are embodying humanity’s greatest treasure – the gift of compassion. And while it is equally important to have compassion for ourselves and our own needs, and not to neglect them and to honour them when we can, when we can give with compassion, we are actively engaged in a process of liberating our souls. And if we can develop the ability to give with compassion in a way that also brings us joy, this is the time when we are truly free.