Most of us spend our lives trying to escape from self-centeredness. Maybe that’s the whole point, the whole challenge, and what the story is all about. Some of us succeed better than others. It seems to me that the ones who have the most success are those who somehow turn self-care into what might be called other-care. We were born with different gifts, and at the same time, we do things based on the capabilities that we have. It takes courage to be a caring person who will not always look out for himself or herself but will always look after others, making sure other people live a better life and creating a comfortable environment for all. This takes courage because people who care run the risk of being hurt. It’s not easy to let your guard down and open your heart; it’s easier and sometimes safer not to get involved. But people who take these risks make tremendous discoveries. The more that you care about and the more intensely you care, the more alive you are.
For example, I remember when my son was two years old and my neighbor had so many difficulties going on in her house. This neighbor had four kids and could only afford one meal per day. I had 80 dollars remaining in my account, so I divided the money in half and shared the other half with her. As my son was very young, that was money that I also needed to buy diapers for him. I took the risk of sacrificing my son’s needs in order to help my neighbors. When someone’s heart is open, it decreases the pain of others.
A person’s capacity for caring can illuminate any relationship, such as marriage, family, friendship, and even the ties of affection that join humans and animals. Each one of us was born with some with this capacity, but whether we let it expand or diminish is largely up to us. To care for someone, you have to surrender or let go of the armor of indifference inside of you to hold, keep, and build strong relationships
This same neighbor and I lived very close; her house was about five meters from my house, in the same row. Every morning before I went to work, it was easy for us to chat before I left my house. She was always telling sad stories about what was happening in her house. Her husband was a broke man with no job to feed or support the family. One night, when I was reading a book in the sitting room, I heard someone knocking at the door. When I went to open the door, I found my neighbor with her babies crying. I opened the door for them and welcomed them into the house. She said that she had something very serious to tell me. She said, “I have nowhere to run back to for help.” Another time, she begged to borrow money from me for the second time so that she could start a small business that could support her entire family. Most of the time, I do keep some money in the house because I believe that anything can happen at night. For example, my child can get sick, or I may be in need of sugar or other small things. So, when she asked, I had the money to give. She split the borrowed money twice, giving her husband half the money to start a firewood business. By doing this kind of act, she let go of the armor of indifference so that she could keep her marriage and protect her home.
I remember when I gave birth and was living with my son. Being a single young mom and playing both the roles of a father and a mother at the same time is not a simple task. I have been raising my son alone from day one up until today (he is nine years old now). By paying for my son’s school fees at a private school and also finding tutors for him for a better education, there are so many sacrifices that I am making to see my son’s happiness. I always bought for him different foods for breakfast, such as cornflakes, porridge, milk, bread, peanut butter, and yogurt, so that he would have a proper breakfast before going to school. He must not feel lonely or lack anything.
Once upon a time, at sunset, my son and I were watching the tide come in. The lesson was all there in that beautiful sign of the water moving in and out: the will to act, to approach, to be engrossed, and in the absorption, to be fulfilled. You may be able to hide the feeling or even deny it, but you won’t be able to push it away. There are times you could ask yourself how it happened and what you have to do; it goes too deep for a reason or difference of opinion. The land was just passive, and so it waited. But the ocean cared, and it came.
7 May, 2023