Wasn’t it only yesterday we watched in awe as the movie ‘2001 – A Space Odyssey’ showed us the unimaginable steps Man had taken in readiness to embrace the brave new world of the 21st century?
We look around ourselves now we’ve begun 2020 and find the world hasn’t changed anywhere near our hopes and expectations of a brighter, happier, more peaceful future. Despite this, we don’t have to change our own personal odyssey too much to gently increase the positives in our own small corner of this world and consistently work at reducing – even ceasing – the negatives that try to pull us down.
A well-known song suggested the need for ‘sweet love’ NOW in our troubled world… and that was back in 1965! That particular ‘now’ is much more than half a decade ago, but it’s never too late for any one of us to generously give and graciously receive Love – no matter how small the gift.
It’s not so hard to take that smallest step – to be the first to smile at a stranger; to offer a greeting, a kind word, a helping hand. These are the simplest gestures of regard toward another human being.
Marry that with empathy – NOT to be confused with sympathy – meaning feeling sorry for, or pitying – all too often leaving the person feeling alone in their tragedy, somehow lacking the understanding they sought and desperately needed.
Empathy is quite different. It is entering into that other person’s world as far as he will let you – and respecting whatever level he is ready to allow. It’s moving forward gently, with baby steps, as and when his spirit ebbs and flows. Never forget, we have not the least idea what this person feels, fears, avoids, or suffers – unless we have ‘walked a mile in his shoes’. And even then, his shoes are a different size than ours. His feet likewise. And his exact path has never been ours no matter how alike it may seem.
The most important thing we do have to offer is a willingness to just stay ‘with‘ this suffering person, in his moment – trying to sense and share and lessen his burden. Only he can lift it, but your understanding will help support him at what may well be his lowest ebb. This is Empathy.
And while you are concentrating on sensitively supporting this person, you will find unexpected changes happening inside yourself. Many previously negative attitudes to people and events will slowly change and soften – and your tolerance will increase to a previously unimaginable level. This is Love.
And from this love can come the possibility for both of you to choose your tomorrow to be the ‘First Day of the Rest of Your Life’ . Those simple words offer SO much – just like the promise of each day’s sunrise – a new day, and a new chapter can begin. A renewal process can begin by simply concentrating on becoming the best possible person you alone can be.
And just like that, your Personal Space Odyssey has begun.
OMP Admin Note: Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.
To find out more about Christine and her work:
Christine Larsen, Author
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