Stephen D’Evelyn On Breathing Easy When It’s Almost Spring

It’s a brilliantly sunny, fizzy-feeling day. It’s a little hard to concentrate. It feels like spring but you don’t want to say that for fear of jinxing it. Worries seem suspended however heavy. The sunshine spills through the still bare branches of maple and oak trees. Further along the road the very first blossom trees are just coming out white. The day seems poised.

A half-listened-to inspirational reflection on the radio this morning comes to mind as I try to focus on work, something about respecting and helping each other achieve our individual goals. I tense up remembering it and deliberately have to sit back in my office chair.

Sigh. Why do goals annoy me? One reason is that they seem like ways others can judge those who do not conform or measure up. Even with the most selfless love, looking at someone in terms of goals means thinking about how they aren’t doing this or that.

To me it seems more fulfilling and maybe more beneficial instead to try simply to provide others with what seems required for them to move ahead or veer left or right if they wish and to stick with them as they do it. This means being ready to respond, being patient with others and yourself, and perhaps consciously putting others first.

I was struck recently by a passage from the story of the creation of Adam and Eve from Genesis by Adam’s delighted outburst ‘This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh’. I had always assumed this was typical male egocentrism — bone of MY bone, flesh of MY flesh. But I realised Adam was all there was when it came to humanity. He was simply saying, ‘Here’s another human being, not a zebra or a goat or a cicada or a stalk of broccoli!’

When we deliberately and mindfully put others first, we become open to perceiving unseen bonds of kinship and the surprise of kindness. We see under the performance curves and targets to sense the heartbeat. And that makes it easier to breathe easy on a heightened, brightened, almost-spring sunny day.

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