Ever seen a show where the finale is so smooth, it actually makes you revisit everything you saw in a new light? You might know from my previous articles that the questions I present at the beginning are usually comedic. This one is more like a magic trick: The big reveal is in fact a deeper burial of the trick, and it’s served with a lot of sleight of hand. (Editor’s note: This article is continued from last month’s “You hear, but did you listen?”)
I am blessed with a wife that heard my self-muted battle even though I didn’t want her to. It takes a special force of will and empathy to become such a humble hero to someone. Her empathy was rooted in her immense love, and her will is forged from her solid upbringing that led her to make a conscious decision to navigate through the fire to salvage a single leaf from an already gone forest.
Bold no? Some might even say intense. I’ll even say it myself: I would have never done for myself what she did for me.
And I know the next question on your mind is: What if it’s a person I just met and they’re struggling psychologically? Where do I root my empathy in?
That’s a question many ask in different forms. But why should you even care?
The brightest minds in the world agree on the same empathetic level: Help a soul that can never repay you back and experience the world with a new perspective.
Let’s be clear: I’m not one to go with the masses; just because a scientific authority dictates something then it becomes automatically set in stone. But this notion vibrated with my soul that it became one of the very few things I believe in.
Ever wake up in the middle of the week, decide that the weather is so beautiful that you just take an impromptu day off, then head out and do things you wouldn’t normally do on a Tuesday at 10 am? Remember how the sun felt brighter that day? Remember how it felt like you existed in a realm so uncommon that it just feels warm and realistically euphoric?
I think you experienced this at least once. Now imagine that same feeling multiplied by a thousand times.
That’s the best analogy I can think of for a selfless act: an unplanned day-off.
Ending someone’s struggles is not a one-time battle. It’s not even a one-hero job. Unless you want to take on that immense responsibility, do know it will be as intense for you as it is for the person going through it.
Validation… that’s where you should start. A person experiencing mental struggles is often not looking for ways to get “over it”. They need someone to listen, and to tell them that it’s ok to feel how they feel.
Nothing more, nothing less. Its presence is heaven, its absence is hell for a struggling brain. It’s all the mind needs to assert its dominance over a demon it cannot detect, address, and ignore.
Attention is a precious commodity; we spend it on ads, on pictures on Instagram, yet second guess if we should listen to someone in a pit.
Surely I don’t want this to be misunderstood, so let me clarify: People who struggle with mental illnesses don’t want attention (for the most part). If anything, their total evasion of attention is what leads people to take regrettable actions.
It’s, again, empathy… that’s all they’re looking for.
What’s the difference? Attention is short-lived. Empathy is timeless. Your extension of it to someone isn’t bound by a specific moment.
Rescue missions don’t have to be as huge as what my wife did for me. Heroes don’t have to navigate fires. They also help the old lady cross the road. Empathy in action gets one tiny hurdle out of the old lady’s way.
It’s that simple. Believe me. I wouldn’t lie to you. Just know that whatever my wife did for me when I was in the pit, has not only affected me, but it also inspired me to be empathetic towards anyone who needs it…just because.
To provide to many what one person provided to me when many didn’t…
Empathy does not expire. It knows no priority but itself…
To conclude: Will this simple act lead to a resolution to depression? Does it help the brain cure itself? Does it lead the person to become better?
Heaven only knows it doesn’t. At best it will lead to a reconciliation, not a resolution. It won’t cure it, nothing will. It only makes it less scary. A brain that struggles with its health keeps entering a self-resetting trap. The only way out is becoming fluid to it.
I made my point; empathy is a force of immense power. It can liberate those who feel stuck, becoming a voice for those who are still in the pit, even when it seems that their own head isn’t going to pop out anytime soon.
So here’s what I came up with…
In 1842, the first train track ran through Italy. The train ran across the entire country and it became such a piece of news, that Italians and other neighboring countries nationals would often ride these trains and explore the country like they never did before (much like you’re doing now). So wherever there was a train stop, an Italian from each neighboring village would wait at every track (or passage), and as the train stopped, he would start yelling out loud the unique experiences his village provides to try and entice traffic unto his village “we have bakers, shows of sleight of hand, carpenters to make you jewelry boxes”. If you liked what you heard, then you just make eye contact with the man who’s offerings caught your ears through your train window and nod for him signaling that you want to go with him to his village (much like you’re about to do). Then you would get off the train as he says very silently, very shy-ly, very timidly “mind the gap”.
And just like that, you follow the ITALIAN waiting at the BEGINNING of every PASSAGE, and do take his advice and “MIND THE GAP” and he will lead you to the village (My Reveal). With a bit of shouting your attention was caught, a slight of hand that made this finale awesome.
Now tell me…was this FINALE any good?
You can listen to Immunity by Jon Hopkins on Spotify.