Your author friend, Pir Khan, says you can only help a person if you have gone through the same problem that he has gone through, and even if you have not solved the problems, you have found the way of living with them. Now I don’t think Pir Khan is saying, for example, you must have cancer to help another person who has cancer. I think he is talking about sharing the same problem in a more global sense. Perhaps, he is suggesting joining with a person in solidarity with his condition and in the depths of his suffering and despair. Walking in their shoes so to speak.
I recognize that certainly the corollary to Pir Khan’s proposition is true. If we have cancer for example we seek out books written by people who have cancer, join groups who are dealing with the same issue, or seek out a family member or friend who has gone through cancer and its treatment. I have been on both sides of this equation, first talking with people who had transplant, and since my surgery talking to others who face the disease and a transplant in the future. No matter how people say they can identify with a problem, we seek out the wisdom of people who have lived with the issue as the experts.
I am a very fortunate person. I have experienced two frightening events in the last twenty years. The first was going to prison and all the terror, torture, and trepidation that is involved. The second was my transplant, the illness that preceded it, the anxiety before the surgery, and the slow recovery. How do I say I am fortunate except that I endured them both, knowing the huge toll both events exacted, especially on my family? It is because what I found at the end of both events was love enabled me to survive both. Love cast a whole new perspective on my problems.
The change these events brought on could not have happened by my strength of will. It required emotional attunement that opened me up to the miracle of life. I was overcome by how extraordinary and amazing the phenomena of existence is, with its good and the bad, its beauty and its terror. Both allowed me to widen my vision and sensitivity to see subtle beauty and joy even behind what appears to be frightening or unimaginable.
Why am I fortunate? I have been given a great gift – the ability to talk to those who face the same problems I faced and help them learn to live with all their consequences and hurdles. Like I mentioned in my last letter to learn from mistakes. That is partially why I refer to going to prison as a Sabbatical. It is a chance to escape the current world and learn about people and their life one would never experience otherwise. Similarly experiencing a transplant gives me and my family an opportunity to help others who face a serious health problem and how to live with its presence in their lives.
I apologize for getting so wound up in today’s letter. I just needed to ramble. Bottom line is as your friend Pir Khan says that when faced with a problem we need to bring love into the equation. Love is the only power that can truly expand your consciousness. Love always casts a different perspective on a problem and the way it works. The power of love triggers compassion.
Your friend, Tom