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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

3-4-24 PDF
March 4, 2024
2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Compassion: A Blinking Cursor

The cursor goes in and out of sight on the blank page, as constant as the second hand of a clock. My fingertips hover above the letters on the keyboard. I lower them softly onto the keys, where they sit patiently in their appointed places. First sentences are tough. Like writing, phrasing that first sentence in a conversation is difficult. With enough practice, beginning a work of literature or beginning a conversation becomes less paralyzing. Practicing communication skills, whether oral or written, and weaving compassion into its threads, is a life-long learning process. A glass of water or a smile serves well as a first sentence, I’ve learned.s
While I knew that compassion put in motion the gears of the goodness in humanity and in life, I experienced its importance in the clinical setting. I felt nervous on my first day at UPMC Susquehanna Hospital. Luckily, I met Cassie, a fellow volunteer who was familiar with both the ward and its staff. Cassie never let the metaphorical cursor of hesitation blink for long on a blank page of conversation. She sensed when a patient wanted to chat and when they wished to be left alone. I observed her interactions and unfailing compassion with the patients carefully, with the hope that I may develop this sense, too.
One morning, while looking for heated blankets in another wing of the second floor, I saw a family of six sitting and standing around a bed. After I had delivered the blankets, I was asked to take a jug of water to the room I had seen. Upon exiting the room we saw one member of the family, a middle-aged woman, behind us. She was crying. Not knowing the appropriate way to comfort her, I left her alone. Cassie, however, left to get a glass of water. She returned, offered the glass to the woman, and began speaking quietly to her. At that moment, I realized that it is better to attempt conversation and offer comfort than to hold back. Soon after, I grew comfortable as the sole volunteer on the days Cassie was absent. Initiating a conversation was not as fearful as it had been before, and I relished the smiles, thanks, and anecdotes I was rewarded with.
Once you’ve written that introductory sentence, the rest of the paper needs to flow from and connect back to the opening. Today, I do not struggle with the blank cursor that is the hesitation that sometimes precludes a compassionate act. Today, I know that compassion means refusing to let that cursor blink for long, initiating a conversation, cracking a smile, or simply greeting an individual with a “hello.” Compassion is nothing more than being as brave as Cassie and taking that step to form syllables and vowels and consonants; one kind word can change a person’s whole day. Compassion is nothing more than offering comfort to someone, regardless of whether you feel unequipped with how to best comfort them.
I have strived to exercise compassion in each one of my interactions at the hospital. Like Cassie, I do not let the cursor bling aimlessly. I initiate conversations with each individual, and find I am happier for it. Compassion is something that is both gratifying for the recipient and the originator, as I discovered when I met Joe.
Joe was an elderly man who found it hard to hear. When he came into the hospital and asked where the Heart and Vascular Department was, I found I was unable to allow him to venture off alone. So I took it upon myself to escort him around the hospital for the entire duration of his day, for UPMS Susquehanna is reminiscent of a maze which visitors can never solve. Even though I knew he could not hear me very well, I managed to guide him successfully, for I had already solved the maze of the hospital from being a regular volunteer, to prepare coffees for him that I presented after his appointments, and to bring him a candy bar after I caught him looking at them longingly.
Joe taught me that compassion isn’t always in syllables and vowels and consonants. Rather, compassion is the simple swirling of a coffee that you present to a new friend. It is the silent guidance through a maze-like hospital. And it is in the simple purchasing of a candy bar for someone who wants one.
Compassion is extending an invisible hand that tells someone you care. It is in the glasses of water offered, the smiles given, the soft words of comfort, and the passing of coffee from one hand to another. Today, thanks to Cassie, I have learned how to overcome a daunting blank page of conversation by offering some comfort or a smile weaved in compassion. Today, thanks to Joe, I have learned that silent acts telling a person you care have compassion weaved in them as well.