There have been many sensitive essays appearing on these pages discussing reaching out to others and taking care of oneself. I believe that they go hand-in-hand. If I don’t care for others I’m really not taking care of myself and as I take care of myself I can discover how to take care of others.
Awareness can be an initial step in this process. Self-awareness is a good place to start. We can become aware of the signs provided by our own bodies. They let us know when we are angry – clenched fists or tight jaws, sad – tightness in our chests or tears in our eyes, anxious – shortness of breath, darting eyes. And other variations. Our breath is often a crucial sign. If we can recognize when it’s rapid or shallow and can stop for a moment to breathe deeply, opening our hearts and letting the breath spread throughout our bodies we might be able to identify the cause or causes of our distress. And then we can analyze the information and decide on an appropriate course of action – and not one of reaction.
This is especially important in these divisive times where many react with hostility, hate, and anger whenever they come in contact with someone different from themselves. Different in color, different in religion, and differences in political positions. Breathing becomes rapid, pulses go up, fists shake, and words are shouted. Worse case – guns are drawn and BANG, BANG, BANG. Never a good solution.
This negative reaction is not an awareness of others but a knee-jerk reaction to a badly painted picture of “others” as the enemy. And if we stop to think about it, we can agree this negativity is not the way we should care for ourselves. It’s not even a good defense for ourselves having to think of so many others as “enemies” who surround us and threaten our families and very lives. Despots would have you believe this so you can be easily manipulated. “The liberals do this.” “The conservatives do that.” Really?
Our Founding Fathers recognized the commonality of us all when they wrote in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This is a start – recognizing that we all have these Rights and that Happiness includes equal access to resources and an obligation on all of us to insure a level playing field. We should take care of ourselves and others and keep these words in mind especially as the Fourth of July approaches.
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at email@example.com.