What do you believe in?

My favourite thing about smartphones is not that they are essentially compact lap(palm?)tops that can also be used for the more traditional functions of making phone calls and sending text messages. 

It is that they are able to store several times the amount of data (and eons worth of memories) than my archaic Motorola RAZR from the yesteryears.

Over green tea with an old English friend, I came across one such memory (a close-up) taken (across the table, and over a similar beverage) when the iPhone 3G had first come out, and everyone with enough student loan left over just had to have it. 

It wasn't that many years ago, but somehow, I could barely recall her. This stranger who, once upon a time, I knew only so well.

I realized then, how vital it is that we remind ourselves regularly of what is most important. And of the fierceness with which we must hold on to it.

Billions we spend on art, cinema, print, and retail in an attempt to understand love, to find a perfect definition, to carve with it a haven for ourselves. But how often do our actions reflect the significance of love in our lives? 

We hardly make time for 'loved' ones, call upon a neighbour in need, chat up a friend who may have just lost their job or broken an arm playing sports, let alone, be of any use to the community or citizenry, especially with no immediate return in sight. Our teachers, we disrespect; our peers, we mock; our governments, we abuse. 

It is no longer inciting social change as much as it is the slow, painstaking erosion of love from our hearts, being replaced with nothing else but ill will, hostility, and of course, hate. Oblivious to it all, we remain self-absorbed, (mis)believing this whole time that love will eventually prevail.

Fine. World issues are too complicated, and involve so much political know-how anyway that it would be too much of an investment. A little closer to home, then. That homeless man parked in an alley between the Royal Ontario Museum and Philosopher's Walk. Catching a wink's worth of sleepy sunshine after extreme wind chill from the night before. A few extra bananas, an apple maybe, or even a muffin for him when we buy coffee and a mid-visit snack for our group next time? 

One offering of fruit or baked goods will not feed him for a lifetime (like us, most others are unlikely to oblige), nor will steering clear get him the job and home that we think he should have. It will, however, leave the heart just a tiny bit bigger.

Too many variables?

A lady on the subway then, almost faint and nine months pregnant, hoping desperately for an empty seat when the train comes. Or the elderly gentleman with four large bags of groceries we met across Shops at Don Mills, trudging along towards the seniors' residences. That blizzard one night, waiting for the Lansdowne bus that fills up fast when it does eventually come, and the young girl with an infant and no choice but to endure another half hour in the biting cold, unless just one person decides to get off.

Let alone the number of times a kind word is enough to make their day, crack open a smile, prevent a fight, lighten up the night, and we - quite simply - refuse to indulge.

Many an opportunity such as these we continue to sideline because despite the blessing that is sight, we fail to acknowledge the plight of our fellow human beings. And the few moments that can be taken out of our busy lives and these busy times to bring just a tiny bit of comfort to another person. To be just a tiny bit kind.

'Everybody lies,' or so House M.D. enjoys drilling into the heads of anyone who will, or downright refuses to, listen. But, it is true.

How are you, what used to be a fairly simple question, today, seems shackled to our one, pallid response. When we are clearly not, always fine. 

On a fitness high, and still craving a sugarbomb? Let's have one, but not take note in the food log, or tell our followers on Twitter for fear of losing face. Or heartbroken, but leave those near and dear out of it. Because how could a relationship in perfect shape be such a water hole inside?

Fourth year, but how could we switch now? And that too from engineering to liberal arts! A contract that wasn't renewed, or that project, oh-so-sublime, but with no funding coming through, or even an interview gone astray because we just weren't able to sell past experience as well as the last time. What is said instead of what is really the case would mortify Pinocchio

As if anything that ever went wrong, was not according to plan, or deviated ever so slightly from schedule was a self-induced weakness. As if to err wasn't human at all. Rose-coloured expectations at first, and when those fail to measure up, life sentences of the worst kind.

We build walls so no one ever comes knocking, and even then, our doors remain closed. Memories too ugly we simply stop, drop and strike out like they never existed, shielding them even from ourselves. It's not like they ever were a part of who we are (for better or worse), or for that matter, of what was learned from those experiences.

It is exhausting.

All this keeping up of appearances, all this pretence.

It is crucial that we wake up to our own demise, that we are honest with ourselves, that we inculcate empathy for ourselves, before we can ever hope to do the same for anyone else. 

And that is why the world is indifferent to its own suffering. Because we have become incapable of being kind to ourselves, of being able to love ourselves, despite our flaws and our weaknesses. 

My heart is open. Come one, come all.

For you and for me; this is my favourite passage from the Bible.

1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; 
love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; 
it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 comment :

  1. Kindness has also been the case of trust for me.
    Sometimes we fear that doing kindness can hurt oneself.

    i.e. The other day I was at the airport and this individual had lost his wallet which I overheard him talking about it over his cellphone.
    I was about to offer some monetary but he volunteered to speak to me and told me his story.
    I wanted to but I knew the airlines could have offered him some sort of voucher. Suspicion arose and I walked off guilty for not giving but confused as airlines could very well help out.

    I sometimes wish I was stronger than that.