Experiencing chronic illness for almost two decades provides a person with the luxury of time for giving much thought to the meaning of life, relationships and the world. Somewhere between a nasty flu and imminent death is a space where I live my life every day, year after year, never getting “over it”. As I witness the world around me from this vantage point, I learn how few things we really need to just be, to just live.
Long ago, I decided to let the emotions I experience manifest themselves without judging whether I should or shouldn’t be feeling the way I do. I am not a negative person when I’m feeling frustrated and this frustration doesn’t take away anything from who I am. I am not a positive person when I’m feeling empathy; it is just another facet of my being. Any heart can hold the entire universe if it so wishes.
I recently became aware that several emotions, for lack of a better word, live side by side in the deepest recesses of my heart. In daily existence, we are subjected to feelings that are the result of our thought process, which defines what is acceptable to us, what is “good” or “bad”. All this, based on our perception of the world according to our individual experience.
There are many people out there who want us to think that “negative” emotions can be expulsed from our being through a myriad of techniques and that the “positive” can grow to fill our heart with bliss, leaving no room for the nasty stuff. I beg to differ with this over simplistic view of our inner universe. I have known people who proclaim that they are “pure joy”. Joy, joy, joy is their perceived personal identity until… you do or say something that offends them. These days, it’s easy to offend.
If you prefer one political view to another, or you pray to a God differently from another, you love differently, you prefer the city to the country, or you’re vegan …, our differences are endless so you’re very likely to offend someone, especially those who pride themselves in being joy incarnated. They are first to shut you out of their life because you’re, well, negative, resentful, even disrespectful. This is strange to me because I am in fact the same person who was so lovable until I expressed something that was not shared by such a joyful, dare I say, “friend”.
It is a challenge to face such situations while remaining aware that each of us sees the world as we are and not as it actually is. To be honest, I cringe when I see hostile comments about a group of people who think differently from another group. How can we possibly know an entire group when we can barely penetrate the inner world of one single individual, even if that individual is our self?
Am I joy? Yes. Your life choices may affect how I momentarily perceive joy, if you hurt me or give me a loving hug, but what lives in my heart doesn’t depend on what views you express. If I embrace my own opinions or emotions as unique then there’s nothing preventing me from seeing your views as an expression of your own unique life experience.
The human heart can paint the world in colors that can create rainbows of joy or dissolve into dark pools of sorrow. We are the masters of all that we hold in our heart and our canvas spreads farther than we can ever imagine. Kindness has a nice color, don’t you think?
See you on the path of healing and beyond,