Lauryn Hill, The GG, RasTa, an Ear Infection and Trauma.

I have so many questions running through my mind, the main one being how to adequately start this post to encompass the true essence of what I want to say.

I am bursting with gratitude in this moment. In the past two weeks, I have met the Governor General after singing the National Anthem, seen Lauryn Hill perform live, and met Donisha Prendergast after watching the film she created with intense love in her heart and a burning passion that I recognize on a soul level. I sit back and look at my life sometimes and wonder how on earth I got to be so blessed.

This also marks the second week that I have had an ear infection that has caused me more physical pain than I have felt in a long time. Sleep has evaded me at the same time as my ability to focus on school. But two weeks ago you would have found me in the midst of an unnecessarily over-the-top pity party. It was in the moment that the pain had reached a high point that I found out something deeply disturbing about myself. In the face of pain (whether emotional or physical), “victim” was my default setting. Without thinking twice my mind would start to blame any external force for what I was experiencing as opposed to turning inwards and facing my issues directly, and more importantly, setting aside some time to heal.

A little bit of context: Earlier this month, my mom and sister were driving back from Toronto after dropping me off and met with a serious accident. Traumatic would not even begin to describe the experience of hearing about it while you are kilometers away and unable to be there. Since school started and drama started to unfold in other areas of my life, I realize now that I did not take enough time to myself to process what happened and to truly feel. As much as I love being there for others in their time of need, I failed to be there for myself. And that’s something I’m in the midst of rectifying. Convenient that the worst ear infection I’ve ever had would start just as the other drama was reaching a high point, right? It was the universe’s way of telling me to withdraw and retreat, I’m sure.

I was talking to my sister last week and she mentioned to me that people had stopped checking in on her. That they asked her once if she was okay at first, and then completely stopped and even ignored some of the things she was saying after the fact. It’s beyond disheartening. The more I talked to her, the more I realized no one under the age of 35 was asking me how I was doing either. I am cognisant of the fact that others have their own lives to get back to and that they may be facing their own set of challenges, but in the case of me and my sister, talking so much with someone else about their life and not getting asked how you are feeling back is just a flat out slap in the face.

Our time here is limited. Very limited. And that means you, it means me, and it means all of your family, loved ones and dearest friends. If you do not actively care for (and appreciate) the people who surround you or even do the opposite and disrespect them, you are doing a huge disservice to yourself and to your own humanity. From one day to the next, they may be taken away from you. Trust me. You do not want to have regrets about mistreating people who have come into your life. They are here with you, for you, and they love you unconditionally. To not check up on them, to neglect them, or to dismiss them is to turn your back on the meaning of human existence, and that is love. To turn your back on love is to turn your back on your life, it’s to reject the blessing you have been given, it’s to run away from the highest expression of your being.

Empathy is important. It is how we are reminded that no one is above one another in this world. We are all completely equal and should treat each other as such no matter our societal standing. Humility, kindness, compassion, creativity, and generosity are the fundamental pillars of my identity. The reason I am able to make such a statement is because I have been surrounded by some of the most incredible, empowered, sensitive, strong, emotionally connected human forces, among them my mother and sister, who I know have the spirit of a fighter inside of them ready get through anything. So if they’re lovingly fighting that battle, I am in it alongside them for life. And whatever comes after.

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