Friday, 19 June 2015

The Half-Born

I once read of a saint who walked excruciatingly slowly, with his head downwards, to avoid trodding on the lives of innocent ants.

This sort of sondering self-reflection is all I can think of the past few days. The focus has been people, rather than ants. I want to feel more empathy for every person I see. Why do I get mad in traffic? Why have I ever given a beggar a contemptuous look? I can't answer these questions without a great degree of shame. I have no right to think of myself as above anyone else. It's so easy to, given that I'm stuck in the body of this person -- that is, me -- and yet I know that I'm really just one among billions.

That's not quite what I've been feeling, either. It's more of a profound expression of wanting to help. As a girl, I used to dream about being a nurse to wounded soldiers. My teenage idea of a volunteer trip was joining the Red Cross and heading to war zones. Now, I'm just confused. I say I'd like to be a neurosurgeon, because it aligns with my studies and, well, sounds pretty impressive. I read a great article in the New Yorker about a sensitive, meek, and quiet neurosurgeon practicing in the U.S.. He writes about the profound joys of physically removing a malignant tumour -- saving a person's life with your own hands -- and the crippling sorrows of making mistakes and destroying the livelihood of your patient... I can't write anything here to support the weight that the previous sentence carries; a neurosurgeon can be a saviour, or the angel of death. That's a God-like responsibility.

Whatever I decide to do after my schooling, I hope that it advances the good in the world. With careers, there are two options. You can do good to one person at a time, with practices like medicine or therapy. Or, you can make change  and influence the lives of many -- but with a less clear result. This is the way it is with politics and business.

All these thoughts are above what I have been thinking day-to-day lately. A German film, 'On the Wings of Desire', has me thinking about how to explain complex, introspective, and very heavy topics to children. Humans of New York has me wishing I had more people in my life I could speak honestly with. Summer weather causes me to explode outwards into the world, leaving a long list of to-tries. I just flew a plane. It felt like I really touched the sky.

I feel outside this world, I feel outside of humankind, I feel outside my own body. I want to breathe deeply and live and cry. I want to feel everything intensely and truly. I have a deep yearning for the grittiest and most real of the fruits of life. I want to taste them just to know that I exist here, and not in some netherworld. I want to feel profoundly for humanity to convince myself that I am part of humanity.

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