I found myself at the dentist’s a few days ago. While some girls who came for meager dental works like dental washing or filling of cavity were chattering about boyfriends and lecturers, I was gripping both sides of my chair in sheer agony. My left molar had split into two and it seemed I would die at that very moment if the Dentist’s assistant didn’t call me into the theatre yet the seemingly vain girls chatted on like I didn’t exist.
Something shifted inside me at that point; I began to feel something more than blinding pain, anger. Vindictive anger at the chattering girls, at the world for being insensitive to my pain; what would it have cost those girls to just show some empathy? What would it have cost the nurses to just glance my way with a comforting look?
After the malignant tooth had been removed, I was told to wait outside the office for my gum to stop bleeding. At this point I had been heavily anesthetized so I began to see more clearly with the absence of the pain. I released the girl I’d been expecting empathy from seemed to need it most; her friends had been tearing her down. It could be a trick of light, but I could spot a lone tear escaping the confines of the nurse’s eye that I had wanted comfort from. Then it hit me. Every one was in pain…
The whole world is in pain. We all are in one form of pain or the other too intense to let us see others’. We are so pre-occupied with our pain that we can’t see past through it to that of others. We walk through the motions of our lives too pre-occupied with our private pains to enjoy some of the wonderful things life has to offer like friendship.
As the saying goes, sympathy is two hearts tugging at the same burden. This means that shared burden makes a load easier to bear. We would all agree that we all experience this calm relief after sharing some terrible thing that happened to us sometime in our lives with a compassionate person. Such an event loses its horror with each time it is revealed to someone. Imagine if the nurse, the girl and I had decided to share how we felt at that time; I believe I would have been dwelling on their pain rather than my own!
On my way home I saw a little child crying and felt compelled to comfort him. That whatever had happened to the child was of no consequence did not stop me from connecting to his pain. It was the really felt like the right thing to do. And it turned out to be just the right thing I needed because with that small act I felt that in my own tiny way I had restored a semblance of order to this world.
However who is to take the first step?
It is you reading this. Things would have gone differently if I had broken the ice with these two women at the Dentist’s office. Maybe we could have become friends, who knows? We lose great opportunities of connecting to people because we are scared of rejection. If we are rejected, fine, it really is the person’s loss.
So next time you are walking on the street wondering how much longer it would take for you to finally make it in life, open your eyes clearly to see that secondary school student who got chased from school because of school fees, or the market woman who got robbed, or the little child that misplaced her baby doll. Connect to their pain and who knows you might be saving your very own life…