Some of us grow in bubbles. We never leave the town we grew up in, and live close to our parents, siblings, and school friends. Maybe we take holidays in other countries, but that is all we experience of the world.
Recently, a poet wrote about cooking. I remarked that some people eat without cooking. “Each to their own” was the reply I got.
I was staggered and realize that she is not a poet at all. Poets write about every issue there is the world. Poets are photographers without a camera, illustrating scenes with words.
I have lived in five countries and speak three languages, all badly now as I have experienced so much trauma, loss, and disease in my relatively short life. I am not bitter about this. When someone is damaged, the mending leaves cracks and that’s how the light gets in, to quote Leonard Cohen.
the mending leaves cracks and that’s how the light gets in
Not everyone is fortunate to travel as much as I have. I was born into two cultures, so two countries, and my parents were travelling people, using vacations to travel around Europe. My sister and I went too as we were successively born to our parents. So I grew up bilingually.
I travelled with friends as I got to my late teens. I then travelled with my work with an international charity. I’ve been in two war zones and seen children very ill with curable disease. It is heartbreaking.
Always allow yourself to feel the pain. It means you are human.
My mother was a difficult woman and denied me support for university. So, when I had saved enough money I gained various degrees and at USC, Los Angeles gained my Ph.D.
To pay my way for the last part, I worked in a drug recovery home. I saw family pain there like I could never imagine. Addiction is a family disease. I firmly believe in family relationships, but healthy ones not codependence or cutting off. Families need to practice forgiveness, undeserved favor, grace, and patience.
Love of children is not equal. A child is unique and requires different qualities of love. Opportunities should be equal, unlike my own experience of my mother.
Do you mix with recovering addicts? They do not bite. Do you have friends with different colored skin? Be aware that of the systemic issues people encounter.
Do you know people who are attracted to their own sex? Or maybe someone attracted to both sexes, someone who is asexual, or just queer in their own way.
Do make a stand for causes that make sense to you. They may not affect you but if it makes sense, support it.
Above all, check your privilege. Often. I have felt the fear of my Black friends when a cop car passes. Or when cops walk into the drugstore. Even going for frozen yogurt can be seeped with fear.
Stepping out of our comfort zone expands our minds, increases our compassion, and makes us useful individuals.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” — Charles Dickens
It is never too late to start broadening our minds and lives.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
You may also like these posts on The Good Men Project:
|White Fragility: Talking to White People About Racism||Escape the “Act Like a Man” Box||The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives is a Killer||What We Talk About When We Talk About Men|
Photo credit: Brett Jordan on Unsplash