“I DON’T CARE!” Harry yelled at them, snatching up a lunascope and throwing it into the fireplace. “I’VE HAD ENOUGH, I’VE SEEN ENOUGH, I WANT OUT, I WANT IT TO END, I DON’T CARE ANYMORE!”
“You do care,” said Dumbledore. He had not flinched or made a single move to stop Harry demolishing his office. His expression was calm, almost detached. “You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Well, let me start by confessing, honestly, that I haven’t read Harry Potter. Have seen one or 2 movies in the series but no, haven’t read the books yet. Oh God! Am I in the company of none? I mean who, but WHO HASN’T READ HARRY POTTER? :)).
Anyway, now that that is out of the way, please read the quote I’ve posted above from one of the most famous book series of all time, and read it again, s-l-o-w-l-y. It resonated so much with me that I had to share it. Last weekend, I attended a meeting. It was a Committee meeting of the apartment complex where I reside. Committee members help with the administration and discharge of duties in maintaining the complex and ensuring that it’s run efficiently. It’s pro bono work and everyone somehow culls time from their busy schedules to attend meetings, discuss matters that affect the lives of all the residents in the apartment, and minutes it, displays it on the notice board for all other residents to read and understand what transpired during the meeting and about decisions they have empowered us to take on their behalf.
In the meeting last week, my name was called out by another very senior member to be part of a team that was to oversee a particular agenda item. I didn’t want to be part of the team. When questioned by the senior member why, I said I wasn’t interested. But I was part of the Committee so how could I not want to be part of this, I was asked again. I bristled at the man and my temper was barely controlled and I almost shouted out my response: “why me alone? you haven’t asked these other 2 gentlemen sitting here, so why am I being singled out for this?” It was a genuine and correct observation, but the way I communicated offended and hurt the senior member. I realised it, but I couldn’t care less.
When I got home, I mulled about my reaction to this, the simplest of matters, or so it seems at first glance. And then it hit me. I disliked the man who’d proposed my name in the first place. There was some bad blood and history behind our interactions. He had hurt me deeply and behaved quite abominably and I couldn’t find it in my heart to forgive him, albeit I was civil to him. I know he tried desperately to somehow get my attention, perhaps my buy-in for his ideas whenever we were in a meeting, but honestly I couldn’t care two hoots for the slimeball. He disgusted me and so what if he was a senior citizen and had more experience and supposed maturity than I. Bah! I was hurt, and how ever much I tried, continue to try, I cannot bring myself to like him. The anger and the hurt are always skimming the surface when he’s around. The treatment meted out to me for not agreeing with this person seemed to be “my way or the highway and get out of the way” with not so much as a by your leave seemed high-handed, immature and well, ugly, uncouth and rude.
Which brings me to the question: do we ever, ever, ever forget the hurt someone has caused us? Who so ever he/she might be? Family, friend, acquaintance, colleague, teacher, classmate, retail store assistant, bus conductor, the guy sitting next to you in the theatre, the woman behind you in the queue, the cleaning lady in the toilet, your ma, pa, sister, aunt, anybody, for God’s sakes, anybody? And by that I mean someone who’s not treated you fairly, acknowledged your humanity, spoke ill of you or somehow crushed your ego and made you feel small? I would think not. Search your memory and am sure you’ll be able to come up with at least one hurtful memory when someone you knew or didn’t know made you feel small.
I meditate, I practice forgiveness, I consciously avoid hurting people, (even though I know I do when I raise my voice and sound abrasive or caustic like I did at the meeting), I pray actively for everyone and always try and justify other people’s bad behaviour. God knows I try. But when another human being and especially one you know makes you feel like you’re invisible, you’re not really needed or required, God, it somehow feels like you’re not worthy. That is at the core of it isn’t it? The worthiness of who you are tossed aside like some piece of garbage in a can. Can anything be more degrading, more demoralising and defeating and hurtful than being made to feel that you’re not needed, and no one cares? Even thinking about it makes me choke with emotion. It’s that raw. No siree, whatever you do, when you’re hurt and it goes deep, it stays with you forever. The pain may dull over time, the raw emotion may get buried, but the hurt, well, who’re we kidding huh?
Recommended: think of a fun party and what you’d like your guests to experience at the party. Fun, laughter, happiness, gay abandon, joy, delight, pleasantness, camaraderie, recall, great memory, a high, a certain sense of pleasure, right? Perhaps that’s what we should aim at when we engage with people on a daily basis at any level. Imagine life’s a party, yours. And everyone’s invited. It’s time to have a ball, now bawl. (Maybe I should practice what I preach first eh?)