This was my second year engaging in the Compassion Games and for the second year it was an honor to be able to take part in the awesome activities the organization challenges players to participate in. The “missions” ranged from ‘doing the right thing’ to being ‘fully active and present in an interaction with a friend’. All of their challenges were created with the purpose and hope that each participant might become more conscious and aware of how their actions affect all of those around them, directly and indirectly. The missions weren’t always acts, however. Some missions simply asked the participant to become aware and appreciative of the daily things we take for granted, such as where our toothpaste comes from or who helped package the food we eat. They made an effort to help break the barrier of disconnectedness that we rarely consider in our day-to-day routines.
My favorite act of kindness that I performed during the games was after passing a homeless man on the street, I turned around and went to buy him food from a nearby restaurant. I’m a vegetarian and haven’t bought meat in a year, but I chose to buy some for him because I knew that he would appreciate it and it would be more beneficial in the long run. It was something that I’d never done before and I can successfully say that being apart of the Compassion Games is what aided me in making the decision to act compassionately. I walked away feeling grateful that I had the opportunity to give and help him.
Just by performing this act I could feel a ripple effect happening in my mind. New ideas and ways to provide food and support to those in need began to pop-up in my head. Suddenly, I went from what I would consider reasonably compassionate to a superhero of compassion, fueled with the want to serve. I wanted to do more, act more generously and give more. I accredit this to the action of kindness itself; it is always rewarding but never complete. There’s always more to do and more people to help and the moment you engage, become conscious and act in such a way of realizing this, it’s hard to stop. That’s the beauty of compassion and that’s the beauty of the Compassion Games: to help participants, not only realize the importance of being compassionate, but to realize there’s it’s never ending, there’s always room for improvement and area for growth.
In conclusion, I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to participate as a “secret agent of compassion” for the second year in a row. It was once again eye opening and rewarding. It’s made me even more excited to start overseeing our afterschool program this Spring, so that I can teach the kids participating the same mindfulness and compassion that I’ve learned throughout my experiences!
Tylar Setser, Americorps VISTA