“Suddenly summoned to witness something great and horrendous, we keep fighting not to reduce it to our own smallness.”
― John Updike
A few weeks back I wrote a bit on bearing witness to the pain of another and how we need to let our loved ones feel their pain at times without trying to fix it. I realized tonight that that is only the half of it.A friend of mine was telling me about the insights he had while on a pilgrimage. He was excited and transformed and I found myself wanting both to ask him questions and perhaps bring him down to earth somewhat. I held back from doing this and let him communicate what he would. Part of me figured that there would be time enough for questions at a later point and part of me was coming to a realization. If we need to experience our own pain and breakage without someone providing a buffer for us don’t we also need to be able to experience joy and healing without interfering. I don’t mean by this that we shouldn’t feel joy when our loved ones are happy, of course we should. I simply mean that the last thing needed at the point of healing or realization or joy is well-intentioned unsolicited advice. It is possible to be present with someone and bear witness to both their joy and sorrow without needing to steer it or help it along. By being present, we can perhaps connect to something within ourselves.
Quite often seeing someone experiencing the extremes of emotion can be frightening. Perhaps we can relate to the times that we have felt intense feelings and fear that loss of control and what it may bring. It is those very extremes that can often give us the most insight into ourselves and the universe and to deny that to ourselves and others is to rob them of this. At times it is better to be a silent wingman than the driver of the car. It is definitely more appreciated.
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