The above quote is profound, practical, instructive, and chock full o’ brilliance. There is a fairly popularized proverb that I first saw in a collection of inspiring stories by Rabbi Paysach Krohn that states the idea that if everyone’s bags of troubles, challenges, heartaches, difficulties, etc. were put in a clear bag and hung out on a line for all to view and choose from, we would look at everyone else’s bags and realize that our own bag isn’t so bad.
So, the person you are sitting next to during your morning commute might look like they have their act together and are “living the dream, baby,” but they also might be dealing with a personal problem that we would never be able to deal with. The person in front of you at Trader Joe’s might look relaxed without a care in the world, but they might be stuck in an emotionally abusive relationship. The boy in your child’s class who always seems to get extra attention from the teacher might be subjugated to the most horrific family situation that you could ever imagine. The department head in your office, with the leased company car, the never ending suit collection, and the perfect golf game might have a seriously ill child that is costing him thousands of dollars in medical bills. That dude sitting next to you in Starbucks with his MacBook Air might have a serious learning disability and can’t read above a fifth grade level. Your friend in the Zumba class who has three part-time jobs and the perfect boyfriend might be struggling with an eating disorder.
There are times when I think that others have it much better than I do. There are times when I see the problems others have and think that I could handle their tzuris (troubles). Understanding that my own problems (despite having a family that loves me, a job I like, and really cool kids) are tailored exactly for me isn’t easy, for sure. It’s much easier to think that we know everyone’s story and it’s natural to want to walk in someone else’s shoes.The truth is, we don’t know the problems that many people have. Sometimes all we can do is be kind, patient, and sympathetic to others. Sometimes just doing that can lighten the load someone carries and help them fight their battle.