This week was overwhelmingly busy, demanding, and exhausting, as is most likely the case for most of you. I took today to catch my breath, tie up loose ends, forge ahead with projects and to-do lists, and prepare for the weekend. You know, the usual end-of-week tasks. I did cram in a little self-care and self-development as part of my mind, body, spirit practices. Nonetheless, my mind was racing most of the day and as is typical for me, I was feeling as if I had not been as productive as I could have been. Hush ego, I go this.
As I was swinging by the grocery to grab a few items for dinner, I noticed a van parked in the berm of the highway with its lights on. I slowed for a closer look and saw a woman inside the van with her head in her hands. To me, she was obviously in distress. I felt tears sting my eyes. My heart opened as I glanced at the woman in my review mirror, quickly considering pulling over. Traffic was impatiently pushing me; I felt afraid. I didn’t pull over.
Turning into the grocery, I held on to the image of the woman soaking in my fear to pull over and check on her. My mind shifted to her pain. Was she ill? Had she received devastating news? Had something or someone frightened her? Or, was she feeling as I was depleted and completely exhausted? What ever her pain was, it was deep enough to drive her van off the road.
Walking into the grocery and through the store, I felt the heaviness of how much pain is in the world. As a held the image of the woman in the van, I pictured the Sikh man who was beaten this week, my dear colleague whose daughter died unexpectedly, the morning of 9/11, and my husband’s childhood friend who is fighting for his life. I trust you have your own pain.
Pain is a normal, common emotion. As living beings, we’re wired to feel pain. Whereas some pain is inevitable in the flow of life, other pain is not, and I believe could be prevented if we opened our hearts instead of closing them.
Whether or not the woman in the van’s pain was natural or created, she was hurting; my heart opened for her. And even though I was afraid to pull over and reach out to her, I want her to know that someone in the world saw and felt her pain with an open heart.
We might not be able to ease someone’s pain; however, we can make the conscious choice to open our hearts, and be kinder, gentler, and more loving toward each other.
Sending you inspiration,