i’ve noted it before, but one’s empathy for the sick improves each time he joins their company. ill, we are diminished, further removed from complete participation in the present moment, another thick layer of glass between us and true experience. a goal of life, if it cared about such things which it doesn’t but we do so i’ll keep thinking about it like that, as i see it, is to have a complete experience. of love, of sorrow, as unfiltered at its arc as at its depth. if the world we hope for, in our most secret heart, has peace in place of suffering, and any of it depends on you and me, what does rests on the release of the self we share from the ties that bind it. the way i was bound to the m-f latrine all afternoon. sometimes, however, the sickness lasts, and lags us, draws us further away from the bright surface, and we sink.
today, i love my job. i love it despite taking the picture of a young girl’s hands, clutched around her head, cradling herself, exhausted. “can i take a picture of her feet?”, i asked her mother. “its for medical students to see what happens when people starve”. yes, she answered, if you can get me a basin. it’s to wash her clothes. i don’t have one, and they’re so dirty. and if you have any money...
yes. take it all. and the basin too.
it’s what i felt like saying, but i didn’t. in that way, i am diminished.
i did get the basin. i asked after it for hours, and eventually it came. this afternoon, her daughter, who hours before lied cradling herself in washed out fatigue, stood in damp clothes, renewed from the food we dripped in, her hips at a jaunty angle. she looked at her brother, then her mother, a parent already at five years old.
today i love my job because it helped me remember something important. today it was that i have a chance, if i open myself more, and each time more to what is offered to me, i leave improved, both of us closer to the quick of what it is all about. it’s like a good friend of mine taught me about improv. you say, “yes, and...” and they say, “yes, and...” and yes, and yes, and yes. and so it goes.
catch me tomorrow, though, and it might be different. but each time it is, less than before. good night. sweet dreams. bed time. yesssss...