Mr. Cloudy's Shelter
A Place to Listen and be Heard
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2007-02-16 3:44 AM
At Least to Do No Harm
Tradition says Hippoctrates used this phrase referring to medical treatment. And I wonder if it is really very helpful at all. At least in the hands of a neurotic. The practice of medicine, for example, has done plenty of harm, believing it was doing good. How could you go into surgery thinking about doing no harm? Wouldn't it lead to paralysis rather than poise? To me it leads to all sorts of what if questions.
I hate to admit to being so calculating, but it is an inescapable part of my nature it seems -- what if a friend is hurting and I say or do not say something that leads to their harm? I know from my own experience how just the right word or the right presence at a moment in time can change the whole feeling or meaning of an event. How powerful we can be. But of course, that power, that interconnectedness can just as easily lead the other way, even when intentions are good. How do we bear this burden, this burden that we can make such a difference in each other's lives?
I think, I don't know, but I think this burden is part of what has kept me silent for many weeks. And I don't mean that anyone's pain or suffering itself has caused me to go silent -- I feel honored to share in such things with a friend. It's more like I see this intimacy, this interconnectedness and it scares me. And it reminds me of the pain, the harm, if you will, that can come from being close to people. I want so very much not to fail people, but I see left and right that I do - that I withdraw, that I don't return an email or a call, that I try to hide away somewhere where I'm safe, whether or not it helps anyone else.
So it seems the easiest way to "do no harm" is to do nothing. Stay at arms reach and never admit to the power of our interconnectedness. I know that doing nothing can be its own harm -- neglect, indifference, denial of the truth of our interconnectedness, etc. But sometimes it feels safer, especially when you are tired and unsure of yourself.
And I am always unsure of myself, and seemingly always tired. And something pathetic, and evil, slips in. The subtle desire to do something important, say something that seems to make a difference, in order to feel better, in order to get positive affirmation, etc. In other words, the temptation to use people, no matter how subtly done.
I long for a day when I just feel so full of grace that it spills out effortlessly and thoughtlessly -- without any of the refined conniving of the fearful neurotic who gets worn out by having to measure everything so carefully.
Well, I'd re-read this to see if it makes any sense, but that would be another subtle attempt to control things in order to look good or impress or something. In the end, is our greatness kindness our almost ruthless honesty? At our weddings we vow so many things. Would we better off to say: "I promise not to want to fail you, but I will. I promise to want to love you as you deserve, but even my want will fail when I feel you have mistreated me., etc."
In that light, here's a blogging vow: "I promise to wish I would want to be there with each of you through thick and thin. I promise to be neurotic and unsure of myself, and to withdraw and go silent from time to time. I believe that you are worthy of a greater presence of love that I cannot give. But I can hope to point to it and hope that somehow through all of this frailty, we can help each other get a glimpse of a grace larger than our failings. And I hope that such grace enables me to be as present to others as I can bear. I promise that when I'm here, I will try best I can for the both of us to see my heart as honestly as we can. I promise that when I'm hear, I'm trying to experience the connectedness, trembling in awe rather than fear, but more likely than not trembling in fear. I don't promise to do no harm, much as I'd like to. I just can't know. I promise to want to be able to listen and honestly see if I have done harm. And I promise to want to believe that there is something good, true and beautiful in which we can all share, something that transcends our frailties but is as near as our hearts."
Peace be with you,
Mr. C (aka Darrell)
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