I was brought up to be wary and attentive -- wary and attentive as a means of attaining what I hoped to attain. I suppose what I hoped to attain from the world around me was love, but the world around me seemed not to care much about the attentiveness and wariness I brought to bear. When I noticed that the world did not care much, did not reward my attentive wariness, I redoubled my attention, redoubled my wariness. It was an endless and fruitless cycle. Looking back, I would call it quite sad.
But within that fruitless and sometimes painful quest, there was something quite useful that was nourished. Wariness might be a self-defeating exercise, but attention was quite a good asset, however fruitlessly applied.
Within that desperate attentiveness, I noticed a lot of things that others seemed to ignore. I am not saying this in order to elevate my own status. It was just what happened and its teachings were positive... the brown spot on an autumn leaf, the small smile in a sea of sorrow, the lively stillness on a windy day ... the twinklings that spoke of some wider reality within what passed for a generally-agreed-upon reality.
As axioms go, I think it is a good one: "Everyone has suffered a tragedy." Comparing and contrasting tragedies is a fool's errand, but the fact that everyone has suffered a tragedy has a couple of implications at least: A. We have reason to be kinder to each other and B. Out of the tragic mud, there is nourishment and flowers that grow.
I don't mean this as some feel-good nostrum to be placed adoringly with the other feel-good nostrums on the self-help book shelf. Rather I mean that it is just what seems to actually happen. And if it is, upon reflection, what actually happens, then perhaps it's a good idea to reassess and re-see our tragedies.