Friday, March 13, 2009

Beyond the Window: 'Seeing' the best for Others

The Human Condition

[caption id="attachment_43" align="alignright" width="280" caption="People walking on a Sandy Beach"]People walking on a Sandy Beach[/caption]

The human condition is such that we have the innate ability to do whatever it takes to protect ourselves from harm. It is the self-preservation instinct. The instinct that ensures that a species does not become extinct.

Taken to another level, this is what made the marine iguanas of the Galapagos islands learn how to swim... and that is why they can actually change their body size to adapt to varying food conditions, with some reducing their length by as much as 20% when food is scarce... [read more].

Selfishness vs Self-preservation

With human beings however, there is usually a gray line when you try to separate selfishness from  self preservation. Many times, we are guided by the "each man for himself and God for us all mantra."

Way back in 1999, I listened to a story on Family FM's 'Power Up', about the need for selflessness and unconditional kindness in our lives. This story forever changed the way I interact with others, and it made me realize that a candle indeed loses none of its light by lighting up for others.

Following is the 'Beyond the Window' story. Be edified:

Beyond the Window

Two men shared a room in a hospital. One was an elderly man who was terminally ill. Cancer had destroyed most of his internal organs. This room was his final abode. He was counting down the days...

The other man was a fairly younger person. His was not a life threatening disease, bu the was bed-ridden all the same. He was in much pain though, and often screamed and wailed as pain got the better of him. The older man usually calmed him down.

These two men often talked. At the beginning, they engaged in small talk, as they got to know each other. As the days turned into weeks, they became really good friends. And when their stay in hospital extended into months, they became family.

[caption id="attachment_44" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="People enjoying themselves on the beach"]people-enjoying-in-a-beach[/caption]

The hospital room they were in was such that only the old man could look out the window. The younger man could not. The old man therefore used to narrate to his friend, what the view outside was. He would tell him how beautiful the beach outside was (this hospital was in a coastal town). He often said how he saw people walking on the sandy beach, how children were playing in the shallow waters and how birds flew in the blue sky. This would really pacify the younger man who was in debilitating pain most of the time.

These stories continued for several months, until one day, the old man gave a rather interesting story. He said that he saw a marching band on the beach. The children passed near enough for him to look at them, and they were waving at him. Unfortunately, he couldn't wave back because he was so weak. This particular description of the goings-on outside made the younger patient feel especially good.

The following morning, nurses came over to move the body of the old man. He had died in his sleep. The younger man was shocked, realizing how calm and collected his friend looked as he told him what was happening outside. It was then that he requested the duty nurse to move him to that bed, so that he could enjoy the view outside.

When his wish was granted, he was shocked beyond words. The sunny beach was nowhere to be seen. There were no people walking on the beach. No birds flying is the clear blue sky. The window in this room only opened into a hospital corridor. The window in this room only opened into an ordinary hospital corridor.

[caption id="attachment_45" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="A Hospital Corridor"]A Hospital Corridor[/caption]

"So why did he lie to him all this time?" he asked the nurse. "He told me of things which I cannot see. Why would he do that?"

"Mr Jones," replied the nurse. "Your friend was blind. He could not even see that hospital corridor you are now looking at. He lost his eyesight a while back. And yes, his previous room provided such a view. I guess he was narrating all that to ease your pain. You should be thanking him, Mr Jones."

Mr Jones could not hold back the tears in his eyes. He quickly realized that his old friend had been 'seeing' all these wonderful things for him.

The blind can 'see' too

Go out, and 'see' the best for others. Try and do for others what may even be beyond your ability.

And contrary to popular belief, the blind can indeed lead those who can see.

Let us learn, share and grow.


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