I can see you’re suffering.
In fact, I can see your suffering.
I see your suffering
as a heavy black ball
chained to you.
I see your anger
as a fiery red ball
that you hurl at everyone around you.
I see your sadness
as a swirling blue ball
of tears that you hold tightly in your arms.
I see your anxiety
as a grey ball of electric current
shocking everyone including yourself.
“Help me!” You cry to me,
and you throw a black ball at me.
The enormous ball knocks me over,
and I cannot carry it for you.
“Why don’t you help me?” You accuse me,
as you hurl a red ball at me.
The ball burns me,
and I want to turn away.
“Don’t leave me!” You beg of me.
So I try to give you my own ball of light,
filled with as much love and joy that I can muster,
to replace the blue ball that you hold so tightly in your arms.
But you cannot take my light,
for you don’t know how to let go of your darkness.
“You don’t care about me,” you say with resignation.
So I tried to hug you, to soothe you,
but I cannot reach you,
could not reach around your big, grey ball.
All I could do was helplessly watch you
hold onto your balls of suffering.
When the suffering became too much,
you would throw them at those around you,
and turning them away
when what you were desperately trying to do
was to make them stay.
I notice my own ball of light
would change when I was around you.
Its bright cheerfulness
turned a dull blue,
or sometimes sparks of red,
and I didn’t like it.
I wanted to leave so many times,
to leave you with your balls of suffering
that you seemed to cherish more than me.
Yet I couldn’t;
I know you only throw these balls at me,
because you are hurting
and you don’t know how to help yourself.
I can see you’re suffering.
Yes, I can see your suffering.
But I can also see you.
The potential in you.
The light in you.
So I sat by you, side by side,
you holding your balls of suffering
and I’m holding mine.
At first, you wanted to throw the balls again,
but patiently you learnt to just hold them,
gently cradling them in your arms,
soothing them, caring for them,
healing the hurts from long ago,
and the stress for the uncertainty of the future.
We sat like this together for a long time,
until you lost the need to throw them,
or to hold tightly onto them,
but simply being open to them.
We watched the colours
inside your balls dance,
until they became a soft glow
of pure white.
Now when we meet,
the colours in our balls
still has that white glow,
but sometimes it has a dark black,
bright red, faded blue, fuzzy grey,
or some other colours.
The difference now
is we both understand that these balls
are not ours;
that they are not you,
and they are not me.
Author’s note: I’ve been asked on how best to help others who are suffering. It is not an easy task, as it is dependent on the person who is hurt to have the courage and ability to face and understand their suffering. What we can do is support them to come to their own realisation, and ensure that we don’t become drawn into their suffering and create our own. Sometimes, you may be able to provide them with a solution, but for the times when there is no resolution or the person is unable to resolve their suffering, then at least practice with them to hold their (and perhaps also your) suffering with mindfulness, compassion and equanimity. I wish you every success in your task and to understand the true nature of these balls of suffering.
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