Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Invisible made visible

I stole the title of this entry straight from this week's This American Life podcast (which I am not really going to write about, other than to say, it was very entertaining! I actually laughed to myself on my jog today.) I am mostly using it to refer to myself! During the semester, you couldn't see me, but now you can! Hooray! I am back in the land of the living. Maybe I should just go ahead and call myself a summer blogger. Lord knows I probably will always be too busy during the school year to construct a proper sentence. (Well, a proper sentence that has nothing to do with the WISC or the WRAML or the BASC or any of the other alphabet soup tests I will spend my life writing about. I digress, already!...before I've even gotten started!)

It has been nice to have more free time! I am slowly regaining my executive functioning skills, getting some more exercise, cooking healthy meals, and - most exciting of all - reading fiction again! I have already finished The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht (the first book club book I have completed on time in approximately one million years), and 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson. Both were good! The Tiger's Wife was a great book to do for book club, and would probably be even better in an English class, because there is so much awesome literary stuff in it.

I also just started a book called The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier. I'm only a short way into it, but the basic premise is that it takes place during what becomes known as The Illumination - a period of time when suddenly, pain is visible as a light emanating from the person's body. Pain includes physical pain - the first character accidentally cuts off the tip of her thumb and goes through a painful surgery and then later amputation of the thumb above the joint. She and her doctors and everyone around her can see just how much it hurts her by the intensity of the light. Psychological pain is also evident, which as a person in the mental health field, I appreciate. In the novel, you see this especially as a glow in a grieving young man who lost his wife in a car accident.

It is an interesting concept. I'm curious to see where the novel goes. How would we treat each other differently if each person's pain was clearly visible to us? Would we be nicer? I have to say, if I walked up to someone who otherwise appeared to be fine, but then noticed they had the glow of Depression or the light of Anxiety, or a stubborn chronic pain in their knee that showed as a pulsating light...I would probably be nicer.

Even though other people's pain is generally invisible to us here in the real world, chances are good that many of the people we come across in our day-to-day lives are experiencing some kind of suffering. Really, if pain became visible as bright light, we would probably all go blind. In yoga, we are taught to practice Karuna, or compassion. Other translations indicate that Karuna consists of actions we take to diminish the suffering of others through gentle kindness and active sympathy. So let's try to do it just by being nice. If someone is rude to you, go ahead and assume that there is something hurting them that you can't see, and forgive them. Give them your gentle kindness. Give them your compassion. Even though we can't make pain visible, we can make our kindness visible! I think that's probably a better way to go, anyway!

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