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Repairng The World - One Person At A Time

I spent many years working in social work frustrated and disappointed that things could not be as I wished them, refusing to accept things as they were. It was like breaking my back trying to push back a wave. I was washed away and disappointed and carried the misguided assumption that I was right about everything.


I became disillusioned, losing my purpose and meaning. I became angry that others couldn't see things as I did.


There is a Buddhist God called Avalokiteshvara who has a thousand arms and still cannot end the suffering of those in need. In the end Avalokiteshvara tried so hard his 1000 arms shattered into pieces and he still could not save everyone. Even a thousand arms was not enough. The teaching here though is not that we ought to give up but that if a 1000 arms are not enough then we ourselves cannot end suffering: instead we do what we can with what we have and let that be enough - be that via political organisation, protest or our own simple acts of kindness. Better to end some suffering than become dejected and defeated. and change nothing. It tells us we do what we can and let that be enough. This story tells us not to become disheartened in our attempts to show compassion or offer help. We change the world one action at a time.


In choosing to be a therapist I accepted that for me change was one person at a time in a 50 minute session several times a day. The social work department is much more powerful with many more arms and many more ways of helping the communities it serves but it was no longer the path I needed to take. My contribution is smaller and I accept this as the part I play. I feel more rewarded and have a better sense of direction and purpose.


Whatever way you choose to end suffering - no matter how seemingly small - it is important. Don't feel disheartened even it is a smile in the street or dragging bins around for a neighbour. It is valued.


Similarly, as I said in a previous blog, climate change is such an overwhelming thought that it can paralyse us from doing anything. However, each morning I walk my dog (Rany) on the beach and I fill a bag with plastic and other rubbish that has either been left or washed up. These small pieces of plastic and other waste will not find their way to the sea to harm the enviroment. Each day there is more but I am not disheartened by this. This is my contribution.


At the end of each day I know I have made these small contributions to people I see in therapy and to the enviroment. At the moment this is as much as I can offer and I am accepting of this.


If you see Rany and I down there on Ayr Beach say hi!








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