Wednesday, January 16, 2008
How less complicated it would have been if one have only oneself to look after, without having to bother oneself of other people. One does not need to greet the acquaintances one meets along the way. One does not feel encumbered to share the problem of friends. One does not have to worry whether or not others live or die, since one has a life to worry to begin with. Absence of social connection oversimplifies everything. However, it also takes away the excitement out of life, for this setup ruins the very essence of a person as a social being.
And so it is not lost on me that it is inevitable to care for others, especially those who need extra attention because they are ill. It may seem easier if I just cared for myself, but sick people like the children I visit in the hospital incite pity that cannot just be ignored. It would have been heartless to see them cry in agony and not do anything about it, not even to grimace as they shriek in anguish. Painkillers may not really make the hurt go away all at once, but it surely provides some form of alleviation to keep them company as that appears to be a better pain reliever. Being with them to show that I care can make them feel that it’s not such a bad thing to be sick when people support all the way.
When one is sick, there is no way others can feel the excruciation one’s body is being punished of. Words fall short of description, and the contortions of the face and the body cannot adequately capture the graver, deeper torture one is experiencing. The misery must be enough for one to wish to end it all at once by dying. Death offers an escape from the torment, making it seem a lesser evil although in truth, it offers no better salvation than the slim hope one sustains when one is still alive and kicking. Since it is better to hang around in illness than to slip away altogether, it becomes more special to have someone to hang with.
And so this is what I feel when I forget myself, only to find it becoming more purposeful when I share it to others. I spend time with them in a lively talk, play with them when their condition allows them, and listen to them as they recount their woes and dreams. Whenever they hurt because of their plight, I cannot help but get hurt myself despite the fact that no amount of vicarious experience can quite put me in their exact misery. It does not matter; what is important is that I do not become altogether apathetic because that would have been too inhumane of someone in the face of others’ suffering. It is just too hard to be solely mindful of oneself when one can be mindful of others instead.
Feelings evoke not only human suffering but also human connection. People may feel ill, but this very condition may draw their fellowmen close for comfort. Only heartless people will endure others’ suffering without any real concern for mitigating this torture. I want to stay connected by hanging around with them, assuring them that things will hopefully get better. The opposite may happen, but nothing can replace the fact in the midst of the pain, each other’s hands are clasped in a symbolic picture of feeling for one another.