Saturday, 5 March 2011

The Depths of Human Empathy

'You can hope to accept your illness. You can hope to accept your illness more graciously. You can hope for patience and for growth in those qualities that make us more human, such as wisdom, courage, humility, generosity - qualities that often have adversity as their sources and root. And you can hope for continued growth in peace, self-acceptance, self-appreciation and self-knowledge'

I've been working as a part-time pharmacy assistant for nearly four years now. I love my job, more than anything I like connecting with other people, helping them, albeit in my own small way. In the last couple of years I've made some very good friends. I've met the most inspiring and resilient people; cancer survivors, addicts, those suffering from mental illness. I've met the optimists and the pessimists, the lonely and the loved. The young and the old. From a lot of these people I've learnt more about my own self. My own weaknesses and how better I can deal with them. With that same grace and strength of mind, with that same patience. 

Its funny how the people that we meet on this journey called life effect us in such deep and meaningful ways. How we ourselves deal with difficulty and pain. In the last few years I have noticed changes in myself, I've become more receptive. Having suffered from long term physical illness for over a year I have always felt a sense of kinship with my patients, a sense of silent understanding. Of respect. Being connected to those who are suffering I think is very important, it helps us on our own paths. It increases our own sense of mortality. Its strange, I never felt more alive then when I was closest to death.

There are great lessons and truths to be learned from people who are suffering. But a lot of the time we don't want to know, we turn our backs on those who are most in need of our love, acceptance and kindness. Society preaches perfection, anything less is inadequate, unwanted even. Remote. We need to remember that without light there would be no darkness! It's only through looking towards those who may seem more unfortunate to us, in reality whose to say that they're not more enriched, more open and content. More aware! Look to people who you may not normally look to because I'm sure they have something to offer, something real! Those 'bums' on the street who smell funny, who we avoid looking at or accelerate when we see. Listen to them, their silent truths and shattered dreams.  

I'm not really sure why I'm bringing this up, maybe its because I've had a tough couple of weeks and it seems like things are once again going awry. The last five years have been so confusing and difficult and intense and right now all I want is peace and simple living. I could do with some simple living. Maybe in the wild. I only have a few months left at Goldsmiths, after that I'd really like nothing more than to disappear, travel the world, maybe by foot! Into the wild. Away from asphalt, the cars and the crowds, that noise! Those wires and screens! These brick and mortar shells we call home....