“I think it’s a mistake to ever look for hope outside of one’s self. One day the house smells of fresh bread, the next of smoke and blood. One day you faint because the gardener cuts his finger off, within a week you’re climbing over corpses of children bombed in a subway. What hope can there be if that is so? I tried to die near the end of the war. The same dream returned each night until I dared not to go to sleep and grew quite ill. I dreamed I had a child, and even in the dream I saw it was my life, and it was an idiot, and I ran away. But it always crept onto my lap again, clutched at my clothes. Until I thought, if I could kiss it, whatever in it was my own, perhaps I could sleep. And I bent to its broken face, and it was horrible…but I kissed it. I think one must finally take one’s life in one’s arms.”

Arthur Miller
from the play After the Fall

Oh! So that is what compassion is! I get it!

xo
allison

Add yours Comments – 47

  • Avitable

    on April 25, 2009 at 5:53 am

    Don’t you think Miller’s perspective, given the era in which he grew up, is a bit different than people from our generation?

  • william

    on April 25, 2009 at 6:13 am

    wow, that’s deep. He does have a very interesting perspective. compassion would not only be realizeing that all these things happen, but doing everything you can to make things better( as much as possible.)
    thanks allison,
    william

  • Kathy

    on April 25, 2009 at 6:36 am

    For me, Arhtur Miller’s plays are as timely now as they were when he fist wrote them. His take on humanity can be chilling, but it is always truthful.

    And as bleak as that scene was, there is still a bit of hope in it.

  • jennygirl

    on April 25, 2009 at 7:03 am

    Or choosing to love, no matter what, no matter how difficult. First pretend…then becomes reality?

  • Veronica

    on April 25, 2009 at 7:06 am

    wow amazing that was beautiful! & yeah I totally get it. Thanks for sharing Allison I loved it

  • Robin Hebert

    on April 25, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Being a Christian gives me a different perspective on life. True compassion and love can only be found in God because God is love. He doesn’t “have” love….it’s His essence. When you are something you don’t have to try….it just comes from your being naturally. How does it help us? Well I believe that actually having a relationship with God makes it where His nature is infused into yours. Pretty awesome. Now if only people would truly live that…

  • Joe

    on April 25, 2009 at 9:09 am

    mmm? The child was to symbolize “his life” in his dream.

    “I think one must finally take one’s life in one’s arms.”

    My impression base on one paragraph, I thought the point was that he thought it’s a mistake to look for things outside of himself as conditions/ reasons to accept / love his life, because there is no certainty (hope) as at anytime horrible things may happen. Instead, the way one finds peace is from accepting and loving one’s life regardless of how …ugly or stupid or horrible or bleak .. it may be.

    anyway – just what I got from the para.
    so mmm..Is that compassion?

  • Tucker

    on April 25, 2009 at 9:32 am

    “I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace.”
    – Tenzin Gyatso, The Fourteenth Dalai Lama

    In honor of Pasha Phares, July 2, 1968-April 24, 2009

  • scott

    on April 25, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Compassion? Is it compassion to love oneself despite one’s broken condition? Possibly. But it is greater compassion still to love *another’s* self, to bend and kiss *another’s* horror. It is the greatest compassion for one to assume that wretchedness for another, to take on and bear their burden, to exchange your peace for another’s pain.

    If we would love, we must first relate to the Infinite. Only then can we truly know who we are in this existence. Only then can we truly love ourselves, and by learning to love ourselves, properly love others.

  • Jennifer

    on April 25, 2009 at 10:08 am

    That was beautiful. Thanks for sharing Allison.

    Every morning when I turn on my computer I wonder…I wonder what Allison with blog about today. It’s really great having you back.

  • Jennifer

    on April 25, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Sorry for the error. I meant will not with.

  • Brittany

    on April 25, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Hello Allison. Very deep. But inspiring as well. I think the kid he dreams of is him. Clutching at his clothes, hurt and afraid. It could be completely representing his state of mind and body. What an interesting way to put it! Thanks for sharing this passage from the play.
    Take care,
    BrittanyXOXOXOXO

  • Jade Ruby

    on April 25, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Robin Hebert Says:

    “Being a Christian gives me a different perspective on life. True compassion and love can only be found in God because God is love. He doesn’t “have” love….it’s His essence. When you are something you don’t have to try….it just comes from your being naturally.”

    Well Robin, dare I open this can of worms on a public forum? I was raised a Christian, but my rebellion began when my father refused to let me be baptized when I was less than 10 years old. Little did my father suspect what a wedge that would turn out to be, one whose effects would become public knowledge in church—without me having to tell anyone about it! Be that as it may, my faith was strong as a child, and so it remains.

    One of the difficulties with a lot of Christians, is that they are so reluctant to question things about what Christianity truly is; what God truly is. There is a big reluctance to examine other belief systems. There is a big reluctance to bring Christianity up to speed with our new information about what constitutes reality. The thing about God is that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Nonetheless, so many who profess Christianity are loathe to admit some things just don’t have a high probability of happening, and to me that is sad. When people talk of God in Christian terms, believers and non-believers alike demand the parting of the Red Sea!

    So when are people going to be ready for panentheistic transpersonalism? God has and always will transcend Christianity, that’s just the way it is; however, are those who profess Christianity today ready for the “Real God”© *in* their lives?

    Ok, now I shall press submit. . .

  • Aziza

    on April 25, 2009 at 11:59 am

    learn to love yourself. compassion comes from within but must also nurture the inside. what good is looking great and everyone compliments you, when inside you are broken and can’t comfort yourself?

  • Alice

    on April 25, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    You have to wonder what the world would be like everyone had unshakable compassion…

  • Amanda N.

    on April 25, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Wow that was really deep and intellectual Allison.It sure is a peculiar,but beautiful perspective on compassion.I never thought of it like that.Arthur Miller has a very interesting outlook on things,espcially things I would never imagine it to be like.I think I will check out his work.Thank you for the great quote,now I have something to ponder over throughout the day when I get bored.I appreciate you finding and sharing this with us Allison.You always make me use my big brain when I visit this site.I just love it!Can’t wait to see the next blog and what questions you raise in that one.

  • Maria

    on April 25, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Robert Hebert I agree with you! Being a Christian myself and being raised in a christian family my whole life I’ve been told how big and great God’s love is but it isn’t until recently I got to experience it!… I won’t get it into alll that now! jeje But just wanted to say I agree with and It would be great if everyone understood that and lived that!

    xo

    Maria

  • Robin

    on April 25, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    A great quote from a renowned writer, which sums up compassion- I guess should all go easy on ourselves and accept all of the many parts which combine to make our whole personality.

  • David Hayes

    on April 25, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    That was compassion … for self. Just as long as we see that, I don’t have to say more about it.

    But Arthur Miller is basing what he says in this exerpt on his personal experience, and my point of view is that we all live in different worlds. Some people better not look for hope outside of themselves, because they are in a world where no one will reach out and offer. Others live in a world when they never reach out for help because it in such abundance that they can’t imagine a world where everyone around them doesn’t focus on taking care of them. Most of us live in a world somewhere between the two.

  • David Hayes

    on April 25, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Oh, the excerpt was also about becoming increasingly jaded or numb as life goes on. If we constantly experience something negative in increasing levels over time, we find ways to cope — we tune it out. Just like we get calluses on our hands, we get them on our hearts as well. Each time we decide to compromise our ideals or our beliefs, we dilute them until they mean very little.

  • David Hayes

    on April 25, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    AND … I forgot something.

    People who get helped constantly throughout their life will never be as strong as they could have been. Those who try to make it on their own or are put in positions where they have to rely entirely on themselves (a condition that I doubt any of us knows in the extreme — we all get help but we are great at ignoring it or discounting it), … will most likely be crushed and crippled by the burden. Those that balance the give and take … bravo to you!

  • Rita Gabriela

    on April 25, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    that was beautiful! Amazing…. And i get it too XD. I loved it. Thanks for sharing Allison 😀

  • Jade Ruby

    on April 25, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    David Hayes Says:

    “Oh, the excerpt was also about becoming increasingly jaded or numb as life goes on. If we constantly experience something negative in increasing levels over time, we find ways to cope — we tune it out. Just like we get calluses on our hands, we get them on our hearts as well.”

    Exactly. But to wake up and realize that your heart has become numb is something that sometimes takes two to remember; that is if you can find those who have no need to be your “rival”. Our materialistically bent culture can make what you think was the most innocent of relationships, by hindsight seem to be the most bitter of rivalries.

    I remember this one story where the protagonist was granted three wishes; with the stipulation that his worst enemy would get double of whatever he wished for. His first wish, to test the waters, was to get $100,000; and he got a mysterious check in the mail. Then out of nowhere, his best friend got $200,000. . .

  • arash

    on April 25, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    That child used to be so beautiful, so hugable. Raised in my arms. I didn’t no any other way.
    But today Mad and frustrated I run around to see who has distroyed my child. I might have even killed some suspects on my way, each time returning only to see another scar on my child’s face.

  • David Hayes

    on April 25, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    … My 3rd wish is that you take this stick and beat me half to death.”

    Taking two to remember. Maybe the two can be one. Dickens took Scrooge back in time to meet … Scrooge.

    I actually wouldn’t want to have a conversation with my younger self or re-read my early theories of creating utopian societies. I know what I lost and, in many cases, how. My best friend right now is a failing memory. It may lead me to getting beat up the same way repeatedly, but the memories will go away after a while … Kind of like when you have a really bad headache and you go outside for some fresh air … and suddenly the headache is totally forgotten … when you step on a nail sticking out of a piece of scrap wood someone left in the back yard.

  • David Hayes

    on April 25, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Oops … best friend got the doubled wish. So that version of the joke says that your best friend may be your worst enemy … or that Genies lie!

  • arash

    on April 25, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    “… My best friend right now is a failing memory.”
    for you my friend I have a recipe for happiness,… well just watch the movie “memento”!

  • Magie

    on April 25, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    I really love the idea the way Miller put the idea of loving ones self is the most important and vital thing to getting what you want and need from life. I espeically just really love that notion, I have to be reminded of it far too often because I know what I want and what it takes but I get sidetracked by life and all the things there are to distract and throw me off track. But in the end I come back to me, and realize if I make myself all I want to be and can be I will help others in the best way possible.

  • arash

    on April 25, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    … I am just thinking what if he wished for a $100,000. for his best friend ?

  • Jade Ruby

    on April 25, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    arash Says:

    “… I am just thinking what if he wished for a $100,000. for his best friend ?”

    That’s a good one! The question is would he wish for “$100,000 to go to my best friend”? Or would he wish for, “$100,000 to go to my best friend John Doe”?

  • Beth

    on April 25, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    I get it. Thanks for sharing Allison.

  • Jade Ruby

    on April 26, 2009 at 12:35 am

    David Hayes Says:

    “… My 3rd wish is that you take this stick and beat me half to death.”

    Ha, ha! did you read this story?

  • Jean

    on April 26, 2009 at 2:33 am

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for having attended to the Invisible Rescue in Vancouver, I was in Montreal, and Im now on a plane to Chicago to help the volunteer there….

    Again, thank you so much for your help !!

  • anon.

    on April 26, 2009 at 6:55 am

    i’d just like to say that i find your posts v. inspiring. 🙂 don’t stop!

  • David Hayes

    on April 26, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Jade,

    It’s an old joke I know. The man is so outraged that his enemy gets double what he got, that his last wish is to be beaten half to death.

    It’s a little convoluted how my mind gets from point A to point B but remembering this joke reminds me of the story about a little girl whose Grandfather was very sick. [The path there is thinking about the phrase “half to death” and how much sense that makes. Where’s the halfway point?] So the little girl asks her Mom hom her Grandfather is and her Mom tells her, “Honey, I’m sorry to say but, right now, your Grandfather is at death’s door … but I’m sure that God will pull him through.” The little girl’s eyes got really big as she visualized what her Mom had told her and asked, “Which way is God going to pull Graandpa?!” [Though dead’s door to death or away from death’s door to life.] Words: Something we put into cliches. Cliches: Something we string together without thinking about what the new word combinations might imply.

  • David Hayes

    on April 26, 2009 at 7:48 am

    And Anon’s post reminds me how important punctuation is. On the subject of Allison’s blog Anon says, “don’t stop!” But if Anon had punctuated wrong, it would have read, “Don’t! Stop!”

  • Jade Ruby

    on April 26, 2009 at 8:11 am

    David Hayes Says:

    “Jade,
    It’s an old joke I know. The man is so outraged that his enemy gets double what he got, that his last wish is to be beaten half to death.”

    Well, he wasn’t outraged to find that his best friend was his worst enemy, but his final wish was a duesy.

  • Jesse

    on April 26, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Belligerence, I Don’t Know, I think compassion should always be a positive trait. I always associate compassion with undying love and the hope that things would always work out in the end. We should therefore show compassion for others giving them hope that the belligerence or negativities of the world would be conquered eventually. I don’t know maybe umm

    -Jesse

  • Smallvillekent

    on April 26, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Interesting! I get it. Thanks for sharing Allison!

  • Sylvie

    on April 26, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Allison I love this!! Such a cool metaphor which I can really relate to…Thank you for posting! :o)

  • Krystal

    on April 26, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Geez…this is so applicable. I am always amazed at how you do that. I wish I had wisdom to share, but all I have are anecdotes. And truly, in the past I could have told you exactly the “way it is”, but these days I struggle to know even myself. It is hard to take your life into your arms when you are searching frantically to identify it.

  • NG

    on April 27, 2009 at 4:48 am

    Hi, its good to have you back Allison. Back here in England we are currently viewing the latest season of Smallville. I dont know if its the last season or not. I’ve not checked the official website.

    Anyways…. Hows is the film season going? I’m referring to Alice and Huck 🙂 When wiil the sponsors get their frantic hands on the hot dvds and promised bumper packs?

  • Netra

    on April 27, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I feel like I am doing this very thing with my life right now…taking it in, and loving it, no matter how ugly things can be…I still have to try!

  • Ruthie

    on April 27, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    compassion, yes. 🙂

  • Ruthie

    on April 27, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Robin Hebert and Jade Ruby,

    I was a very enthusiatic, genuine Christian for nearly 30 years. I loved Chrisianity. It was my desire for truth and a penchant to question and ponder (that, admittedly, was nurtured by a brilliant and loving husband), that brought me out of Christianity.

    Robin, you feel strongly about your faith because of positive experiences you’ve had…kudos to your desire for goodness. Don’t ever let your loyalty to a belief system disuade you from being open to ideas outside of your current beliefs. Be open to growing and change. Keep journeying!

    Jade Ruby,
    (I have a 3 year old named Ruby :)) You are very brave. Probably moreso than I. I agree, God is bigger than Christianity, bigger than any faith, indeed.

    Here’s to cans of worms and pressing submit.

    http://awakeinyou.blogspot.com/search/label/Uh%20Oh%20she%27s%20talking%20theology

  • Irene

    on April 30, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    I don’t think God created life to be so complicated, and I think it’s not good to explore the abyss of questions without an anchor to the basic’s of certainty.

    It is good to take inventory of once life every season, it’s the summery of a chapter, and the foresight, or intro to the next. We decide what kind of character we have/are in every pivital moment.

    Life seems pretty black & white to me. There is a difinate standard of right and wrong that is inate with-in us all. When we violate our consience of this knowledge, we feel bad.

    It is the grace of God that keeps us whole, and moving forward in peace.
    I really don’t think life was meant to be so complicated, though our emotions can feel some what complex. Thats why it’s important to have an anchor, to bring you back to what you know to be true.

  • Alanah

    on May 5, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Hi. I know Allison from Smallville, I’ve never even heard about Alice and Huck… O.O. You’re an amazing person and a wonderful actress :). I’m a christian and like Robin said, ‘True compassion and love can only be found in God because God is love. He doesn’t “have” love.’ <– That’s awesome :). ok bye ^^