“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one life the aching or cool one pain
or help one fainting Robin into his nest again
I shall not live in vain” – Emily Dickinson
The worst sensation is watching our children suffer, our parents decline or our friends or siblings in trouble. We identify with them. It makes us feel defeated and helpless. What usefulness, what value does the heartache create?
I have no answer. Perhaps it is to remind us of acceptance. Unless we want to hide under the covers, run away or shrivel up, we have no other choice but to accept circumstances we would rather not witness. Many of us would prefer to carry the burden, the pain or the sadness ourselves. Many of us do precisely that, when we resist life, succumbing to denial or flight.
We are asked to bravely live life on life’s terms, not our own, and that creates the dilemma. Our lack of power or control to make everything all right, to soften the blow, to stop the bleeding – is what distresses us most of all. The reality that anguish, despair and grief are part of life comes as a shock when it arrives. As intellectual beings we understand the concept yet veil the emotion. It is difficult to conceive of joy, peace and any rest for us when there is so much to fix. Some of us get into action, some of us wilt, and some of us freeze up solid. And we may surprise ourselves.
I know laughter and humor alleviates the heaviness. It opens us to healing. I know just listening, touching or being there helps. My place is not to injure anyone further and comfort instead as much as possible or desired. If I don’t come around eventually to some sort of space, no matter how small, or design, no matter what way, of acceptance, I will ultimately be unproductive to everyone, including myself.
We must live accepting what is and focus on transforming OUR guilt, worry and sympathy into something worthwhile. We can allow scars to become lessons that teach us. We can all be alchemists with our attitudes and perceptions. We DO have that power and control over our minds. We can make anything a living nightmare or heaven on earth depending on our stance. But maybe we give it time, we marinate in sorrow, we climb our way out at our own pace, adapting anew to life sometimes with visible scrapes and bruises.
I could never endure life’s mishaps without benevolent, wise and generous people. The spiritually fit, perhaps just for that moment in time, help us along. Alone in my head, with crazy, random and unfocused thoughts, is a disaster.
When we recognize our true selves – our limits, our flaws and our frailties as well as our gifts – we move forward, making appropriate decisions, expressing and releasing our emotions in wondrous ways, waiting to reconcile with the seemingly unacceptable, undeserving twists of fate and tragedies that befall all human beings. As a whole, united person, we can support another.
We can certainly make our death march harder or we can regard it as simply – precious.
Separate needs are weak and easily broken but bound together they are strong and hard to tear apart. The Midrash Judaic Text