Compassion through Crayola
That’s me on the left. My name is Erik Wiedenmann, and that’s my friend Louisa on the right. You may well be asking yourself why both of us are covered in marker scrawlings, like some poor fratboy who couldn’t hold his liquor. Rest assured, I am not about to recount some bawdy drinking story. Rather, I deliberately chose this photo, because I believe it tells a story that relates to some of the issues we discussed in class. Now that I have officially been inducted to the order of Plan B’ers, I will use this space to briefly reflect on how I feel that being a Plan B’er–which is to say, adopting a Plan B mindset–might benefit our little world.
In my understanding, to be a Plan B’er means to be compassionate. Plan B constitutes an appeal for us to be more sensitive and understanding of each other. Enlightenment, as we’ve discussed it in class, is attained more through an outward than an inward journey. The point is to leave the burning house, though one may revisit it later.
In the photo above, I was at an event called Rebel Bingo. Perhaps some of you have heard of it before. It’s basically a secret party organized periodically, where the participants do not know the venue until the day of. As someone attending the event, you are also asked to act like you are not going to a party, but some other kind of event, because it’s supposed to be kept secret. In this case, everyone was acting like they were attending a late-night aerobics class–gym attire and all. As the name suggests, the party also involved a game of bingo. Numbers would periodically be called out and such… I mention all this just to set the stage. What happened at this party was of most interest, really. It could have been the secret setting, the bingo, the excess of markers, or the booze–or all of those, really–but what surprised me about this party most was how friendly the people were. Everyone was happily drawing on each other (always asking for permission first, of course). I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such kind and open strangers. It was like the people cast aside their adult selves for a moment just to pick up Crayola markers and play games together. Sure, you may well call this behavior childish, but maybe that’s just what our world needs: people slipping outside their shells and interacting with others in a friendly and playful manner–if only for an instance.
After the event, I took the subway home. I stood at the station with purple whiskers and Steve Urkel glasses still decorating my face, and I saw another person with similar marks on her face just across the way. She looked at me and smiled. I returned a smile. We both knew we had experienced something special that night. No, it was not quite compassion we experienced, but it was something close. All of that human kindness had put a smile on my face, and it stayed there for the rest of the night, all the way back home. Maybe the world will end some time soon. But if it does, I hope there will be Crayola markers, because otherwise it would be very sad.