Last year Gary and I went to a workshop led by Ellie and Dan. I just read that Dan had major surgery to have a kidney removed in order to give it to a stranger. I have heard about people who have given their organs to people they don't know but never knew one of them. Ellie, Dan's wife, wrote about what he did under the heading of "My hero" in their e-newsletter. They do a workshop called TANJA, a series of ritualized group exercises for singles and couples to explore intimacy and sexuality. http://www.wildwiggle.com/ The next one is this weekend. Dan won't be there because he is recovering. Gary and I really enjoyed our Tanja experience. Check it out if you are interested.
When I heard about Dan I thought about how his sacrifice would ripple out to others. His wife will spend many hours nursing him to recovery after he returns from the surgery and his family and friends might be part of the process, too. He will miss work and not be available to fulfill various other responsibilities in his life. Other people might step up to shoulder these. All of these people including all of us who know him only a little will be inspired by his action. I can only imagine what it would be like to come to this decision.
I wonder how Dan heard about this young woman's story and became interested in helping her with a part of his own body? I wonder if it "just felt right" from the start or if he had to deal with his own fears and doubts all along the way. I wonder what it was like for his wife and family and friends to support him with his choice to alter his life in such a major way? It seems to me that it would take an extraordinary person who might not even see him or herself that way. Someone who had a sense of connectedness with others that went beyond what most of us feel toward our loved ones. I would gladly give one of my kidneys
to my daughter. Could I feel that same sense of effortless self-sacrifice
for someone I had no previous relationship with? Not at this point. It sure makes me think about how I could show up for other people. Maybe I could push myself beyond the ways I do now in my life to be there for someone else with compassion even when I am impatient or annoyed.
I think it starts with being able to feel compassion for myself
in the midst of my suffering. "I can understand that you feel that way.
I care about your suffering. May you be free from suffering" Bringing lovingkindness to myself in the midst of pain allows me to experience the tightness around my heart and release it. Bringing compassion to myself allows me to see other people's suffering with more compassion.If I can be accepting of my own grief, I can more easily empathize with the grief of another. Gently and lovingly holding myself in my fear allows me to have more understanding for another's fear. Maybe one purpose of suffering is to learn to bring compassion to ourselves and have practice to be able to feel that same compassion for someone else. Maybe it is part of the plan for us to become more aware of how we are all one? I want to remember this the next time I am suffering and my knee jerk reaction is to bully myself out of my pain. "Get over it" doesn't teach me to soften toward myself or others. "This is stupid" teaches me nothing about how we are all one. How can you be more compassionate toward yourself? What could you accept and forgive? What in yourself could you open your own tender heart to?