I was relieved when the man I care for was given the double thumbs up by his doctor and finally released from confinement yesterday.
For two weeks, I had only gone outside four or five times and had relatively little social interaction. At first, I was thrilled, thinking that the room I share with my resident was like a paradise. All that time to study, to contemplate, to get things done!
But it didn’t take very long before I started spending hours on end watching videos on YouTube, reading articles that friends posted on facebook, and eating candy by the bagful. Self-discipline is clearly not one of my merits. Given the freedom, I incline to lazy self-indulgence.
So yesterday, I really noticed what incredible impact simply being around other people has. It was a shock to the stupor of self-centeredness which I had fallen into – a gratifying, invigorating, heart-opening shock!
It’s actually a point of hilarity for me to see how readily I forget about other people. When I was younger, I would loll around by myself, oppressed under the weight of my own lethargy, insecurity, and social anxiety. Even then, the moment I stepped foot into a social situation – and the context hardly mattered, as long as there were other people – there was some relief from that inner pressure and fogginess. There were other unpleasant feelings that arose, but at least they were a step up from this extreme level of self-preoccupation.
Now that I’ve worked through the grosser degrees of social awkwardness and truly enjoy being around people, the effect of merely bumping into another human being is stunning.
People are like magnets, pulling my attention away from my self-centered desires and drawing it towards the needs of others.
When I look around the room, every object I see exists solely due to the efforts of other people. What fortune that we have this global community!
Today, I’m not only aware that my physical well-being depends on others, but my emotional sanity does as well. After all, love, compassion, tolerance, connectedness, and aspiration are forces that imbue my life with meaning and fill my mind with deep joy. How would they exist without other people?
Today, I will continue to rejoice in my opportunity to live amongst other sentient beings. They are the cause of my happiness – the good inner qualities which allow me to have peace of mind are attitudes that only arise in relation to others. Sometimes others may seem to present problems, but even then, they are giving me the chance to cultivate forbearance and endurance.
I’ll regard the other beings I encounter today as dear friends who are assisting me in the adventure of life, helping me to develop into the person I want to become. I’ll be grateful and lovingly wish them happiness simply because they exist. I will do this not only for my own benefit, but to be genuinely useful to others.