When I was a young girl, around four years of age, I played the role of a staunch devil’s advocate every opportunity I had. I seriously preferred to argue the case for another human being than to agree with my mother when she would call a person an idiot for cutting her off while driving. I always dreamt up a reason for it. Perhaps the driver was on his way to the hospital because his wife was about to deliver their firstborn child. Or worse, she was struck by a car and was in critical condition and traffic laws no longer applied to him. And my reasons came quick.
I’m sure she tired of hearing of them.
The thing is, we never know what another person is carrying.
A few days ago, my friend’s world fell apart through a diagnosis she was given. This is not a unique story.
My dearest friend did not know how she could be of use to her. And then she became very clear. Love. When our world falls apart, we really just need to feel safe and to feel loved. In the simplest of ways. Short visits. Warm soups. Allowing space for fear.
I have a friend who played this role in my life sans the circumstances.
She could lift me up with a single sound. And tear down my walls with a single look. She is a teacher, wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, student, and now grandmother.
I saw her recently and I was both immediately lifted, and immediately opened. It is a beautiful state to be in. But I immediately felt like a cub out in the woods for the first time. Vulnerable. A little bit in shock. Unaccustomed to how the world works but aware of how it does. (So I didn’t choose to sleep.)
I have been trying to figure out how I could be of use. What I want to contribute. The list has always been long, but the list which shuts it down, longer. That is the list I am trying to work on. To silence the voices that have been silencing me for years.
Many of the the things I wish to contribute are wonderful things. Areas of buoyancy and verve.
One whisper has always been to help others through their grief. In this moment as our friend was told that she "may be rapidly losing her battle with life" (and mind you, doctors neglect the fact that their assessment and what is true may be huge realities apart from one another)- while my dear friend is unravelling noneleless, I see that this may not be such a good idea for me. I am steady and strong and I know what to do. But I am absorbing the shock and horror of my friend’s distress to a degree that I must work through because it is disturbing my sleep, I cannot move my neck well and my “good” shoulder is freezing up. This is all part of the Fifth Chakra, the center of my voice. Center of vibration. Center of purification and of truth. We vibrate with the impact of whatever is happening to us. The function of this Chakra is to achieve harmony. And to sort out what our soul longs to hear. I think that as much as I have believed that I wanted to usher others through their grief, I see that when all is said and done, the pain of the loss is just too much for me (perhaps because as much as I like to think I have, I still have not sufficiently released my own).
There is a fierce part of my nature which like Voltaire “May not agree with what you say, but -will defend to the death your right to say it.” That is the pushy New Yorker in me. But there is also a very sensitive side who WILL defend to the death and that part of me still needs a bit more care and attention.
Right now all I know is that I am meant to listen. Listen as lovingly and as carefully as I can to give my best attention.
Maybe that is what we are meant to do every day. Maybe that is our greatest task in life. Because I really believe, and always have, that loving is listening. Fully listening. Listening to each other. Listening to the whispers. Listen to our bodies. Listening to the innermost quiet. So that we can listen to our deepest conversation. Our spirit. And ultimately find our way home.
Whether we are embodied or not.
May we each find our way back to this most precious whisper.
My deepest prayers to all who are transitioning and all who are struggling to let them go.