I’ve been experiencing a strange few weeks. Puzzling; confusing; lots of ruminating and pondering; some sadness; some joy and often times simply lost for words. Life. Just life I guess. So why do I find it strange? I’ve certainly been more effortful in simply trying to experience and be present in each emotion as it arises; to sit with the emotion and feelings. This has been a big challenge within my mindfulness practice over the last few weeks.
The thoughts about the feelings have been intruding more, or rather I’ve been allowing them to intrude more rather than noticing them and letting them float on by. So, writing this is a good opportunity for me to explore why that is, whilst realising that I don’t need to understand the why of it, yet I am curious!
Throughout June and early July, I was captivated by Bradley Lowery; a little boy fighting a dreadful disease that sadly took his life at the beginning of July. This little boy had the biggest and most contagious smile I have ever seen! A little bundle of happiness, adorable cheekiness and mischief. He was just being himself, just a little boy doing what little boys do; but oh, that grin! No matter how grumpy I was feeling I just needed one glimpse of that grin and I would be laughing again. What an incredible gift!
As mascot for Sunderland football club he struck up the most incredible friendship with Jermain Defoe. It was an amazing connection and had a tremendous impact on both of them. I didn’t know Bradley and I don’t know his family but I find myself feeling grateful; grateful that he was here even if only for a few years; grateful that his family had the strength, courage and compassion to share him with all of us; grateful to witness the most beautiful friendship and love between Bradley and Jermain. It was all rather humbling.
I felt somehow that that bond included me. Is that strange? It certainly feels strange to think it let alone type it in this blog! Yet I certainly wasn’t the only one who has felt this. The streets were lined for Bradley’s funeral, messages from all over the world of love and support for Bradley and his family. Football fans of every persuasion, who had never met Bradley or his family feeling a compulsion to travel from far afield to be one of those lining the streets. So many wearing their football shirts, all clubs, all colours with old deep-seated rivalries forgotten under the banner #cancerhasnocolours as they stood side by side to say goodbye to this little superhero.
All because of one little lad with an incredible smile!
That outpouring of compassion, love and support was incredible to witness. It made my heart sing to see people from all backgrounds so united, there was a feeling of hope growing inside me. Seeing that outpouring of love and support; could this mean that things can change for the better? That we can put disagreements aside and work together to improve life for all?
Not long after this, I became aware of the tragic situation of Charlie Gard which is truly heart-breaking. I cannot voice an opinion on what should or should not happen in such a situation, apart from the fact that I don’t believe I have any right to voice one, I simply don’t know all the facts and even if I did, I’m not a doctor and I’m not a parent faced with such a traumatic situation. I’m simply not equipped to state the rights or wrongs of any decision in this case. I cannot begin to imagine what Charlie’s parents are going through, it is quite simply beyond me. Neither am I able to imagine what it is like to be part of the medical team faced with making these decisions too, or indeed the judge.
It may be selfish, but again I’m grateful. I’m grateful that I don’t know what that situation is like; grateful that I don’t have to experience it and grateful that I do not have to make such a decision.
My gratitude is swiftly followed by compassion; compassion for Charlie, for his parents and also for the team at GOSH. From what I’ve seen in the news, Charlie’s parents have shown tremendous courage and dignity. They have done what I can only assume any parent would do, which is to fight for the best possible outcome for their child.
It’s a desperately sad situation and I can understand that passions on both sides run high. What I haven’t been able to understand is threats being made against staff at GOSH and also against Charlie’s parents. How does anyone go from being a passionate supporter of either party to threatening the other? What takes place in the brain to result in that action?
Over the years I’ve become more interested in how the brain works and this is in part also due to studying NLP and Hypnotherapy. I understand that a perceived threat to life can result in fight or flight but these threats are from people who are not directly involved; so how does that work? Charlie’s parents have certainly fought and they have done so in a positive and honest way and I fully respect them for doing what they believe to be best for their son. Is it reasonable to expect that the medical team would do anything other than what they believe is the best medical option for Charlie?
Maybe that’s where I’m getting stuck, in the ‘reasonableness’. Am I assuming that all people are reasonable? Are rational? Surely those levelling threats cannot be said to be either reasonable or rational? Perhaps I’m also assuming that those levelling threats actually support either GOSH or Charlie’s parents. They may not have any opinion or even care about the situation and that these threats serve a different purpose for them.
Since studying NLP this is the first time I’m struggling with one of its presuppositions: that behind every behaviour there is a positive intention. I confess that I am really struggling to understand how this could be the case and I’m struggling to apply it. Of course, I realise that I’m working with limited information and I don’t know the people making the threats or what is going on in their world and fuller information may well lead to a different perspective on this presupposition.
I’m full of admiration for medical professionals who deal with such illness and I’m in awe of the strength and dignity shown by Charlie’s parents and I pray that GOSH are able to work with them to find a way to allow them the gift of sharing Charlie’s last days in the way that provides them with the comfort they need.
Well, this has been quite a ramble today, so thank you for bearing with me as I have explored these feelings. Feelings that I can accept for what they are, natural reactions or responses. I’m able to allow myself to sit with them, to be present in them, to take whatever learning my unconscious mind needs from them and allow the rest to float by. To accept that life is subject to change and suffering and that if we expect only happiness we will always be disappointed. Experiencing the sadness and pain isn’t weakness, it’s a valid feeling and valid response. I don’t need to judge myself for any feeling or emotion that I experience. It simply is and I just need to be.
If you are interested in exploring Mindfulness further I will be running an introductory session in September, more details are available here: https://www.loulaggancoaching.co.uk/upcoming-events/