Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Free Help (or Danny's attempt to give back locally)

"We seem to be living in the age of anesthesia, and it's no wonder. Confronted with knowledge of dozens of apparently random disasters each day, what can a human heart do but slam its doors? No mortal can grieve that much. We didn't evolve to cope with tragedy on a global scale. Our defense is to pretend there's no thread that connects us, and that those lives are somehow not precious and real like our own. It's a practical strategy, to some ends, but the loss of empathy is also the loss of humanity, and that's no small tradeoff." -Barbara Kingsolver

It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own little lives to not take the time to step back and open our minds and hearts to all of those people suffering around us. Work, family, and training can seem all-consuming. It usually takes a loss close to home to jar us from our complacency and open our eyes, albeit usually just momentarily. No one knows what another person is going through and it is on each of us to approach individuals without judgment or preconditions. Even smiling, apparently happy faces like Amber may hide insecurities and sadness. Every day someone is suffering a loss whether it be that of a loved one, financial loss or quality of life. Can we solve everyone’s woes? Of course not. But can we approach our days as opportunities to make little changes in others’ lives in the hopes that it helps get them through whatever they’re going through? Of course.

For several years now, I have been going back and forth with whether apply for Peace Corps. I have stayed in my same job contemplating the pros and cons of this 24+ month commitment. All the while, I could have been helping close to home and yet was just sitting on my butt instead. There is no geographical boundary on sorrow, nor do I have to travel to some far-flung locale to help and I know there is likely more than enough suffering in New Hampshire to go around. Buddhist’s have a theory on suffering called samsara. It’s the idea that suffering doesn’t come from pain or loss itself but from our ill-fated attempts to avoid pain and loss. Once able to accept and be at peace with change we won’t suffer anymore because we realize that nothing is permanent and we will stop striving to hold on to things that will eventually fall apart. It is nice, though, to have someone there to help cushion that fall.

Everything in the world is made of parts, and emotion is no different. The most painful, powerful aspect of negative emotions is that they seem complete and whole. A thought builds into a crescendo called emotion, which we then embody. The tight ball of hatred, desire, or jealousy feels so solid that we actually feel it in our body as a lump in our throat, a rising wave of heat, an aching heart. When we’re caught up in negativity, it’s hard to imagine penetrating it, cracking its shell… We [don’t need to] invest so much energy in this feeling that we’ve created with our own mind. The bottom line is that everything comes together and everything falls apart.” – Sakyong Mipham

Knowing that things will fall apart for everyone, I’ve decided to soften the blow locally rather than travel abroad to help out. What I’m planning on doing is offering up my services:  whether it be to help someone move, edit their resume to apply for a job, or pace someone running for a good cause. I realize that there are some skill sets that I cannot offer but I think the majority of help comes from acknowledging that you’re not alone and someone is there for you. To get out of your own head where you create stories that then feed into negative emotions. Here today gone tomorrow. I can’t think of a better reason to get out there and help others and enjoy each and every day-no matter what it has in store.

Have you ever been working out on a loud treadmill or in a crowded restaurant and all of a sudden amidst the din you catch a few words of your favorite song? Despite the apparent lack of music only moments before you are now able to clearly hear the rest of the song. It’s the same thing with helping other people. You may not be able to hear the cries for help all the time but if you perk your ears up and listen you will soon hear it. I have my ears perked up and the door open and will await your calls for help. J

Up Next: Amber leaves for Kona shortly(thank you everyone who helped support her getting there. You can still do so at her Go Fund Me site). I'll be around to cheer people on at the New England Half Marathon before heading out to cheer her on. Once I return, contact me with any requests. Seriously.

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