In the midst of my own happiness I have failed to see the suffering of others. I have fought so long and so hard to get here that in my state of unimaginable bliss, I was then blind to the utter unhappiness of someone I love. Drunk. Intoxicated by peace. I overlooked something, someone, even more important.
You know how when you’re taking a trip on a plane and the flight attendant gives instructions about using the oxygen mask: secure your own before trying to help someone else, like a small child. It would make sense that if you are stable, if you are safe, if you are at peace, that would then transfer to the one in your care. And yet, it would seem not to be so. While you are enjoying the fresh air of the oxygen mask, the child is left, unattended, flailing about, left to their own devices. What measure might they come up with in order to cope with the anxiety of not being able to breathe?
I recently finished reading Paulo Coelho’s Warrior of the Light. As I began reading, the book didn’t immediately speak to me. It was intended to be a companion piece to The Alchemist which I had enjoyed greatly. And even while I didn’t particularly enjoy the book I was compelled to keep reading. By the end, I discovered it was, in fact, a very good book. However, it wasn’t until I found out my daughter had been cutting herself that I realized the value in having read it.
A long time ago, I don’t recall when, someone (I don’t remember who) told me I should be more like a reed on the water. Explaining to me why this is a good characteristic. Rather than getting worked up about something, let it roll off you, like water would roll by a reed on the shore. Often, more times then I could even count, I have uttered the phrase, “I’m a reed on the water.” It’s like a mini-meditation. A simple phrase to bring me back to my center.
Paulo Coelho offers a similar message when he wrote:
“The Warrior of the Light sometimes behaves like water, flowing around the obstacles he encounters.
Occasionally, resistance might mean destruction, and so he adapts to the circumstances. He accepts, without complaint, that the stones in his path hinder his way through the mountains.
Therein lies the strength of water: It cannot be touched by a hammer or ripped to shreds by a knife. The strongest sword in the world cannot scar its surface.
The river adapts itself to whatever route proves possible, but the river never forgets its one objective: the sea. So fragile at its source, it gradually gathers the strength of the other rivers it encounters.
And, after a certain point, its power is absolute.”
A week ago life was bliss. Today, a bust. I am struggling. Trying to decide: do I put the oxygen mask on myself first? Do I want to be a reed, bobbing along in the water, yet always remaining in the same place, at peace, letting life’s troubles pass me by. Or do I want to be the water in the river, constantly moving toward my destination.
– J. Ela