All of the sudden it happened. After months of lazing about recovering from surgery I have found myself back in the workforce. I now have emails to respond to, lessons to plan, projects to coordinate, and an alarm clock going off in the morning. Of course I am grateful, but I have yet to experience a transition without growing pains, yet to feel completely comfortable with letting go.
This new lesson in acceptance is one I am beginning to navigate, but there is one lesson from the surgery that I’m still holding onto: I was treated differently, and still am over three months after the fact.
I found on the whole that friends, family, and acquaintances were kinder, more appreciative, and altogether more forgiving of me than I had ever experienced.
These changes in relationships could be chalked up to compassion during a difficult situation, but I don’t buy into that. I’ve experienced compassion before, and it is beautiful and life affirming. I also have a ridiculously loving family. But the kindness I received during this period of my life carried an even deeper undertone that I’m sure few would ever admit, even to themselves.
People realized I was mortal.
I know how this sounds; am I ridiculously asserting that my friends thought of me as immortal before it turned out I had a tumor in my skull? On the intellectual level, of course not, we all understand the reality of birth and death. But one of the things that makes life less scary, more ordinary, and makes relationships easier to handle is that, in the words of my friend Mark, we temporarily assume we are all immortal.
Having brain surgery created relationships in which the fragility of life became more real. And while this could sound grim, it was the most profound, loving, and fulfilling experience I’ve been blessed to witness in my short life thus far.
Now that I’m well again, what does this lesson mean, and why am I still holding onto it?
I saw that it is possible to love deeply, appreciate people meaningfully, and forgive people’s faults easily. This can be the reality of all of our relationships and interactions.
Perhaps contemplating the unstable nature of all forms will be your catalyst toward this type of human interaction. Or perhaps, like me, that is altogether too frightening an approach. If that is the case, just love others, and be kinder than necessary. Even if you haven’t been on the receiving end of this depth of kindness yet, you can be the initiator of a new way to be human together.