The Definition of Compassion

To tell the story of Anchor and Earth from the beginning I must clue you in to my values and how I got them. Values are what shape and define every person and therefore they make up the structure and purpose of all things a person creates.  It wouldn’t do justice to only tell the “how” and the what without explaining the “why”. I cannot tell you of values I have not yet gained and there are many I am still seeking to practice and understand so I will keep it to my top three.

Of course there is love which motivates and inspires and as much as I’d like to claim love as the motivator for Anchor and Earth, I cannot.  Love is too broad to be a value by itself. It has to be broken down into its multiple parts and then expressed in the definitions of those parts. For example, compassion is a component of love for certain and as compassion has it’s own meaning it also is a fruit or byproduct of Love.

For me, compassion is the act of doing something, anything, for another human when I am able without expectation of result and without consulting my mind’s hinderances first. Compassion is committing every need I have ever had to memory so that it can be recalled to provide purpose in fulfilling the needs of others.

I know I stated in the introduction that I would not make this book an autobiography but indulge me in sharing my earliest childhood memories in order to circle back to the “values” thing. My parents always had guests in the house. Strangers, friends, exchange students, vagabonds, extended family, etc.. Growing up, our home was filled with guests more often than not. I can scarce recall a time that there was not someone staying with us.  Some evenings my Dad would come home right before dinner and inform my mom that he had brought someone or someones with him to join us.  Without hesitation my mother would grab extra dishes and find hidden food to serve as if she had a basket with two loaves of bread and some fish.  My parents called this serving and we all called it normal.

My upbringing is where I place the first forming of my values and witnessing my parent’s response to the needs of our community was the birth of compassion in my own life.

Secondly, there is extreme failure in my life. My failures are what enable me to see what values I am lacking and in need of. I have hurt many people and most certainly my wife, Heidi. I have acted selfishly, lustfully, and arrogant. If not for Heidi’s grit in loving me, I would not be who I am today and Anchor and Earth would not be a place you would want to visit. Heidi showed me true compassion and grace. Grace is like designer clothing. When I see it worn by someone, they look amazing and I want to go and purchase the same outfit but I never look as good as the person who I saw wear it first. That’s the beauty of it! Grace will never look the same to everyone and yet it doesn’t diminish it’s value.

Johnny Cowan