We watched a great documentary the other night called, Blindsight, about a blind man who climbed Mt. Everest and then ended up going back to Tibet to help a blind woman (who started a school for blind children), take the children on a huge climb to the base of Everest. There were so many profound, uplifting and shocking moments in this short film but something that really struck me was how the blind are/were treated. The children were looked down on, and as they passed people in the streets, often they were called names and worse. It’s believed by many in that culture, that blindness signifies the person did something wrong in a past life, so no matter what they do now, it is never good enough.
I could not help but make the analogy to us and to how we treat ourselves, sometimes on an hourly basis. If we could really listen to our own internal dialog, it would sound like we had a cruel, uncaring, heartless dictator living inside ourselves; telling us constantly that we will never measure up, that we should be way further along than we are, that there is no hope (at this age) that we will overcome the situation that is troubling us. That we are losers. When I see someone outside myself, like these kids, being treated this way, it infuriates me. I think, “How could anyone do this to others?” and yet the internal critic is doing the same thing, night and day when I let it run amuck in my life.
I remember listening to a tape of a well-known spiritual teacher talking about his life; how he could run a marathon in 3 1/2 hrs (and by the way, he said that anyone should be able to run for 3 hrs at an 8 minute per mile pace), that he had a loving wife, and lived in a beautiful home and even with tough early years, he never had money issues. I guess this was supposed to be uplifting but it wasn’t, not for me. He seemed to be saying that if you are living “right” then you will have a perfect body, work, money and love and by implication, if you have debt, or no relationship, or an illness, that you were not “spiritually on-track”; that you were doing something wrong.
None of us really understands this human experience of life. But what I love more than anything, is not hearing of a life that never had a glitch, but of how someone changed, grew, helped others, and became a bigger person precisely because of the limitation. We are all, in a sense, climbing a huge mountain blindly; holding a hand out to the one behind us, and the one in front. Listening for the sound of the bells, feeling our way along, though we see (at best), only partly, and at times, not at all.
Today, let’s try to be kind to ourselves. Let’s tell ourselves how well we are doing. Let’s try looking for the good in ourselves and in our lives, just as they are. Just for today.
“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” Fr. Alfred D’Souza
ALSO: The winner of the skin balm is Mary Solomon!