Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The (beautiful) limits of being human


We human beings are remarkable in our ability to empathise and therefore to comprehend the inner thoughts and feelings of another without self experience. It suffices that one remembers how it feels to be sad or happy, to be able to share in the sadness or happiness of another. Even without memory or self experience, we have an amazing ability to imagine and therefore approach an understanding of the innermost feelings and emotions of another person.

And yet, precisely because of these wonderful gifts of empathy, memory and imagination, we will never truly understand each other; because no two memories are alike and imagination is no closer to reality than empathy is. What we are able to discover anew about each other will therefore be confined by the narrow boundaries of what we already know and the relative differences in how each of us have experienced life.

However, it is only when we are able to acknowledge the limitations of our understanding, that our hearts can be lifted from the murky waters of vanity and pride. And only love can make us abandon the safety of what we already know, and gives us the courage to venture into the knowable unknown; to be vulnerable. It is only when our hearts are lifted out of the safety of the amniotic fluid of preconception and prejudice, that we are able to see and understand another for who they are. It is through love therefore, that we strive for ever deeper and more intimate understanding of one-another. It is only through humility - that love is able to unravel our hearts, so that the spirit can roam free; to venture in search of deeper appreciation and truer discovery of ourselves, of our loved ones, and of the beauty and mystery of the world around us.