Accepting the Shift

Maybe it is the cooling evening temperatures or the long drawing shadows as the light begins to fade earlier. In addition to these annual changes, it feels like something larger is happening. I feel a shift. I see friends going through very challenging times—one is at the bedside of her husband whose shortness of breath turned out to be a tumor; one who is grieving the loss of a sister abruptly taken after a seemingly routine operation; two friends whose fathers who are just released from the hospital after unexpected illnesses; and yet another who lost her fiancé two days before being married. It sounds like something out of a soap opera…too many, too tragic to be true. Thus, I feel a shift…a shift under the firm ground that once held my friends more steady. Yes, there are always difficulties here and there…but this many all at once? It seems unfathomable. And yet, as I write these words I feel I write them because a shift away from normal also feels like a shift toward something important.

I recently listened to a wonderful Diane Rehm Show that interviewed Daniel Goleman about how we have become multi-taskers and multi-doers to the point that not only are we losing the ability to focus and not only are we increasing our stress and anxiety levels, but we are losing the ability to be empathetic. We are losing the ability to feel for others. I don’t mean feel sorry for others…but feel, understand how it is to walk in another’s shoes, comprehend other’s hardships.

Coinciding with my friends’ tragedies, I have been inconvenienced by a pinched nerve which has helped me feel pain…pain that at times tosses me to the floor in tears. But I do not compare this temporal situation to the pain others are feeling with their losses. I realize this and it gives me all the more reason to get up off that floor and reach out. Reach to my friends who are experiencing difficult times—from the heart wrenching tragedy and life threatening illnesses to the friend who broke his little toe. It all matters for it is all a shift in how we view life, in how we see our loved ones, and how we perceive ourselves.

There is nothing more I want to do then absolve the pain from others, but all I can do is absorb a tiny amount of their suffering and in doing so I understand what it means to be empathetic towards others. Perhaps there are many things I could do for my friends in need, but right now…just feeling their sadness and their discomfort connects me to them. I am feeling a shift and that shift is moving me closer to those I care about. Maybe some shifts happen not to shake us up, but to draw a long reaching light which touches others and draws us closer.

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