“My life was at stake, literally, and I lived accordingly,” she said. “Who I was during that time, and what I accomplished, is someone I want to be again.”
The woman was speaking about her experience of cancer some years ago and who she’d been when the stakes were high, and who she’d been recently when the stakes were no longer high. She talked about the impact in the workplace.
Eight years ago, she said, “I used to make sure I had the first appointment of the day at the radiotherapy clinic so I could be at work by the time everyone else arrived at 8:30am.”
“I did this all through winter when it was hard to get out of bed. Not only did I do this, I was so powerful when doing it. I used to get to the clinic and set the mood of the clinic staff for the day. I saw that what I said and how I was during these radiotherapy sessions could dramatically affect the tenor of their moods and their entire day. If I was powerful and peaceful, then I felt their day would be powerful and peaceful. I felt it was my responsibility, and entirely within my capacity, to give them the gift of having a powerful and peaceful day with the patients that would come after me. It felt like a joy that I could do this for them.”
She went on.
“Every morning, after the treatment, I went to work and took my seat by 8:30am. I was determined my colleagues would not be affected by my absence due to a treatment, and I was successful. As with the clinic staff, I wanted to care for my colleagues too … to look after any concerns they may have had about me or about themselves. In each setting, I was being completely responsible for my impact on others. My experience of myself during the period was that I was amazing, powerful beyond measure, full of grace.”
We human beings are generally not too enamoured of this responsibility thing. The word lands with a thud on the ear. And it’s no wonder, because we have it mixed up with blame, and with something terribly onerous. This is responsibility at the level of knowledge or concept.
Responsibility at the level of being – the ontological level – is quite a different matter. As the woman in the story learned, responsibility at the level of being is the pathway to freedom, joy and grace.
Image: Waterfall, 1925 by Arthur Dove, courtesy of O Século Prodigio