This Week's Support

comment on and discuss this topic below


Proximity Matters

Hello and welcome to this rare and precious Friday, September 11, 2020!

It seems only appropriate to write this in remembrance of 9-11: the day we all watched in horror as the iconic Twin Towers fell from the Manhattan skyline. I’m guessing that most of us remember where we were and what we were doing.

Our perspective of this event was influenced by our proximity to ground zero. Though our pain was significant, those of us who watched this ill-fated day unfold on the television will never know what it was really like to choke on the toxic ash while fleeing for your life. Those who read about it, will never truly understand what it was like to sift through twisted metal, shattered glass, and collapsed concrete in hopes of finding surviving victims. With my head down, eyes closed, and palms together at my heart, today’s Mindfulness Support is dedicated to us on this fateful day. 9-11-2001

There is a saying which suggests that, “some people suffer too much, and some people suffer too little.” Though I fully agree with this wisdom, I in no way wish suffering upon anyone. There is already too much suffering in the world. We don’t need to add to it.

I recently had a humbling experience where I was reminded of the importance of proximity to suffering, and privilege. I grew up in Colorado and have been in close vicinity to large wildfires. Though I believed I had, it turns out that I had not yet experienced the disorienting surrealism of waking up with burning eyes to impenetrable columns of smoke and ash. The forest fire smoke that I previously experienced, it turns out, was not much more than a nuisance. So, a couple weeks ago when my Colorado friends and family were calling out for prayers, my mind went to, “It’s just a little smoke.” This seems insensitive—it is, that’s why I’m telling you. Even though I “know” otherwise, my previous experience told my mind that I had been through it, and it wasn’t so bad. Nevertheless, despite the cognitive dissonance, deep within my heart, I hurt along with those in Colorado who were fearing for their safety and security. My problem was: I wasn’t in close enough proximity to the source of their suffering to really know what it was they were experiencing. I know better meow!

If, like me, you are living within the fiery pit of the Willamette Val