The Greatest Gift

Is one we give to ourselves

I was chatting with an old friend today. A comrade in arms, so to speak, on the long road to widowhood I made over ten years ago. That trip was a painful, soul searing life tragedy I’m sure I’ll never completely reconcile emotionally. We shared the process because her husband was dying of the same disease at almost the same time as my wife.

The conversation led down some paths of reflection that I hadn’t sat with in a long time. Those days were difficult. A million things to do. But what I most remembered was the overwhelming sense of abandonment I experienced. I hadn’t examined those feelings because I let them all go a long time ago.

People fail us, when we most need them. Friends don’t show up to help when their presence would lift worlds from our shoulders. Family members just go on living their lives as if nothing is wrong.
We have expectations of the people in our lives. Expectations that they will be there when we need them. That they will love us as we love them. That they will hear us when we call out in the darkness. And yet they fail us. Over and over again.

But guess what? We fail them too. Because the things we need from other people are tied to our own perceptions. Even when we give what we most think someone needs, we often fail.

The measure of a person isn’t if they’re there when needed. Sometimes you will be and sometimes you won’t. You’ll often fail to provide that which is most needed in the moment even when you think you’re giving your all. Unless you’re just an asshole, you’re likely to try to help those you love as often as you can. But you’re still going to fail. Often.

The measure of a person is displayed in their ability to forgive. When others fail them. And when they fail others. To be able to accept the imperfections of all the people in our lives. To overlook the perceived slights and misunderstandings. To accept that we’re all weak in some ways and unable to give even when the demand is great.



Some things you don’t so much get over as you just sort of move beyond. The death of a loved one. The ending of what you thought was going to be forever. Life will never be quite the same. Hanging on to the failures you experience in life, whether those of a loved one, or your own, is a zero sum game. No one benefits and everyone stands to lose that most precious of all possessions — love. We’re here for a remarkably short ride and you never really know what pain other people are bearing. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

Forgiveness. We may forgive other people but the release is ours to celebrate.

Empath

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Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

If only you could feel
the overwhelming love
of the mother for her newborn

If only you could feel
the disappointment of the child
when they hear “not right now”

If only you could feel
the kiss of the sun
on newly emerged spring leaves

If only you could feel
the agony of the chainsaw
as it tears through the bark

If only you could feel
the weight of the shoe
as it crushes the spider

If only you could feel
the joy of prancing through the fields
as a newborn fawn

If only you could feel
the heat of the bullet
as it tears through the lungs

If only you could feel
the gentle lift of the thermals
as the eagle soars high above

If only you could feel
the sting of the hook
as it pierces the lip

If only you could feel
the kiss of a snowflake
on the nose of the walrus

If only you could feel
the intensity of the flame
as it races through the forest

If only you could feel
the caress of the water
as it flows over the stone

If only you could feel
the burn of the chemicals
as they fill the waterways

If only you could feel
the power of the wave
as is crashes against the cliff

If only you could feel
the agony of suffocation
as pollution fills the atmosphere

If only you could feel
the ripple in space-time
as a new star is born

If only you could feel
the helplessness of the oppressed
when no one listens

If only you could feel
the triumph of the runner
as she finishes her first marathon

If only you could feel
the shame of the homeless person
as they beg for help

If only you could feel
the outrage of the privileged
when they are called out

If only you could feel
the withering sadness of the nurse
as another one slips away

If only you could feel
the release of the tether
as the soul crosses the veil

If only you could feel
all of eternity
dissolving into nothingness

Maybe then you would understand
how all things
are tied together

Why is this so good?

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There are over seven billion of us.

Seven billion people on this planet. That means there are over seven billion stories. And that’s if every single one of us told only one of the hundreds of stories we have inside of us.

Human beings are storytellers. We have been doing this since the dawn of time. Stories of adventure. Stories of heroism. Stories of love, loss and our deepest angst. We all have a unique story to tell. And my story may be the story that gives you an unexpected insight into your life. And vice versa.

We evolve because we share our stories. We change, who we are and who we become. We imagine ourselves into our future existence. The ability to share our stories, to imagine new stories, to craft new possibilities, gives us unlimited power. Nothing is beyond the human imagination. Because we get to create the story. In real time. And when we combine our stories? Nothing can stop us.

Share your story!

Thank you for reading.