“I share with you the agony of your grief, the anguish of your heart finds echo in my own. I know I cannot enter all you feel, nor bear with you the burden of your pain; I can but offer what my love does give. The strength of caring, the warmth of one who seeks to understand, The silent storm-swept barrenness of so great a loss. This I do in quiet ways, that on your lonely path you may not walk alone.”
- Dr. Howard Thurman in Meditations of the Heart
People usually associate this time of year as the time to give thanks, the end of fall and the transition into winter, and I understand. How could you not, when the trees are stripped of their leaves and the gray concrete roads blossom into orange and brown patterns? How could you not, when the temperature suddenly drops to another all time low and North Face jackets become commonplace? November is a strange month in the sense that it’s a time of compassion and caring.
It’s also, unfortunately, a time of stress. Wedged between midterms and finals like a sweatshirt sticking out of your drawer, there’s no denying the fact that practically every professor in colleges and universities right now is busy trying to tuck in everything on the syllabus and anything they’ve missed out on the curriculum. And of course, what’s even more tragic is that some paper or group project or presentation always clashes with one another at the EXACT wrong time. So as you can already tell, I’m not really seeing the so-called Autumn mood a lot of people are describing. If anything, just looking outside at the leaves and then back onto my Math worksheet is just a sad reminder of the life that I could be living.
Of course, I’m probably not the only person to be under such pressure. I know that there are probably students out there who have more tests to take, more work to do, and are more tired than I am currently feeling right now. This isn’t a post to rant about this so called “college life” and the fact that my classes have put me in a near-impossible situation. After all, complaining isn’t going to write my essay, nor make me learn all the countries in Eastern Europe.
But as I walk around the library, sit down by a table in the study lounge and realize that most of us are all in the same boat – in the same boat not in the idea that we are all collectively cramming our brains out (as likely as that may be), but the idea that we are all capable of being supportive, as students and as human beings we are capable of caring.
The honest truth is that a classmate, a friend, even a family member will never have a full grasp of my life’s problems. They are my own to grasp, and they are my own to solve. So when I’m there listening to my roommate ranting about how he’s cramming for yet another all-nighter, I’m not doing him any favors telling him to suck it up and one-up him by listing out what I have due at Midnight. It doesn’t make me feel better that I am reminded of the things I’m stuck with for the evening, and it probably doesn’t do him any favors learning about my problems.
“I know I cannot enter all you feel, nor bear with you the burden of your pain; I can but offer what my love does give: The strength of caring, The warmth of one who seeks to understand.” No truer words have been spoken by Dr. Thurman. When we are dealt a broken hand, when the sounds of stress are clashing by our ears and our brains are caught in an explosion of assignments, sometimes the only hope we have is that someone out there is listening to the same thing too. After all isn’t this a month of compassion?