Sunday, September 15, 2013
You Are More
I recently finished a book by Rohinton Mistry entitled, "A Fine Balance". The book blew me away. The writing was beautiful, compassionate. I couldn't put it down. Taking place in India, the stories of the different characters' lives are interweaved together. They all come from different castes, different religions. A world that I have no idea about, but still exists today. Even after reading a novel about it, I can not even begin to fathom how different life is there, compared to where I live.
Anyway, after reading this book, I was hit with an overwhelming feeling of lost hope. The feeling that sometimes life gets worse, not better. The oppressive reminder of how hard life can be to certain individuals, to good people, and how sometimes life just does not seem fair.
I don't know if this has ever happened to you. This has happened to me a few times before. I'd be depressed and unmotivated for a few weeks at a time. I knew this wasn't healthy, but I wasn't sure how to get out of it. To live my normal life, knowing how much unimaginable hardship was going on in other parts of the world. And then my head starts spiraling about the decline of our planet earth, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we waste. Ah!!!!
The other night, I listened to Thich Nhat Hanh's "Classic Dharma Talks - Part 1", as I folded laundry. He was reminding his listeners to smile. To smile is one of the most important and loving things we can do for ourselves, for our family, for strangers. Just the simple of act of smiling is known to release endorphins and calm our bodies. Even if it's fake smiling by putting a pencil in between our teeth!
In his talk, he mentioned how someone approached him and said, "But I am so full of sorrow. How can I smile when I have so much sorrow?" I sat up straight, and stopped folding socks to listen carefully. Thich Nhat Hanh replied, "You can smile to your sorrow....because you are more than your sorrow,".
This was an immediate game changer for me. I felt released from my depression, and released from my quicksand of worry. This doesn't mean I'll ignore what's happening in the world to be stress free. I can acknowledge the pain and suffering I hear about and see, and try to help as much as I can everyday. I can only do my best on this earth, for the time that I have. I can give love. I can smile.