Sunday, September 5, 2010

We Are Never Alone


Last Tuesday I was enjoying an emotional pity party. I think it finally dawned on me that some of what made me feel motivated not all that long ago had been deployed to the Middle East. 

I wanted to go for a run (mentally), but my physical self couldn’t muster the oomph required. Later I found out it was actually a mental oomph that was lacking (not my body), as my body eventually overcame the mental fatigue. 

I thought about the elliptical in the basement and then realized I needed to leave the house. It’s too quiet there! So I went to the gym around the corner to see what my leg could handle on the stair climber and then use the dry sauna. 

In the gym parking lot I sat and stared... getting upset I moved and said to myself out loud, “if not now, then when?” and “What else am I going to do tonight if not this?” So totally ticked off, I stomped into the gym.
I exceed my expectations on the stair climber, did some other leg workouts and headed to the dry sauna. Already in the dry sauna was an Asian woman with crutches outside. 

I recognized her as the woman hobbling through the dressing room when I first arrived. I usually meditate in the sauna, but suddenly I felt myself compelled to talk to her and I’m very glad that I did. 

I found out that “Julie” is from Vietnam and has been in the United States (Utah) for about four years while pursuing her study at the Salt Lake Community College. 

At the age of four Julie became ill with Polio and now as an adult woman uses crutches to aide her in walking. Julie’s parents both died many years ago and her three brothers and three sisters are still in Vietnam. 

I think that Julie is about my age, maybe a little older. Somewhere in the middle of conversation, she got sullen and said that she feels alone. 

She wasn’t saying this for sympathy; it was simply a factual and sad statement. I felt compelled to give her my contact information and invited her to reach out to me anytime, especially during the holidays. 

I’ve no idea if she actually will, but I simply felt so much love and a need to express that she’s indeed not alone. My heart is still swollen from concern and empathy for her.
 
I can’t seem to get this experience out of my mind. She was so kind and quiet and though I could barely understand her I wanted so much to connect with her. 

This just made me think of the social phobia people have in associating with people who have disabilities, or not knowing how or wanting to communicate with people not of your race; then compounding the issue with both disability and being a minority - with no relations present. 

Who am I not to reach out?
The look of loneliness I saw in her was a look I’ve seen before, in the mirror. The circumstances may have been different, but the emotion of fear, loneliness, and isolation is universal. 

Even in the apparent desolation of our darkest hours, God is there if we but recognize. I’m not the only one who has MS, who has ever been sad, unmotivated or felt alone. 

We may have moments of somber solitude in our lives, but taking in the entire picture we can also see the beauty of the earth and our place within it. 

Our personal light, no matter how dim it is, often times acts as tremendous illumination for the lives of those around us. We are never alone; oftentimes we are the light that brightens the way for others. Thank you Julie. God bless you.

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