They say a parent can only be as happy as their most miserable child. I doubt this is true all the time, but I can see what they mean. In this time of hay fever, colds, and flu, with Christmas approaching, we find not just our children but all of those who we build our lives around no longer distant. Our parents and friends, our siblings and spouses, each makes their way through work and life, through distance and distraction to find their places again in the center of our lives. How they are doing, how their lives are going affects us deeply and vice versa.
Though it is a hassle to have so much of who we are bound up in so much of who the other is, there is beauty in that as well. A rough honesty that reminds us of that most basic truth that our borders remain largely imaginary, that what separates us and them, you from me, is thin and porous and easily broken through. Our child’s misery may make us miserable, and their joy may make us joyous because on final inspection, where us and them begins and ends is foggy. Their misery is our misery their joy is our joy.
Imagine this connection extended to the world: the bonded emotions not just to those closest to us but to everyone. Imagine a world in which all of us realized the truth that we are bound to everyone across time and space, near and far. Imagine a world in which we were all as miserable as the most miserable person alive and all as joyous as the most joyous person alive. How would we treat one another? I have seen you treat your patients as if this were true, as if their happiness, their comfort, their peace, was your own peace. I have seen it, and it has been an inspiration, and it has been beautiful, and it is the great gift you offer to the other, to each of us, and to yourself because in reaching out a healing hand to one, we reach out to all.