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  • iaindryden1

love and all that

We were outside the Hospital’s A&E department, having been told to drive there instantly. All the way, I’d looked at my worried wife, she a medic knew the gravity of the situation. On the hospital doorstep, my temperature and oxygen level were checked, I was corona-free and given a face mask, but my wife was told she couldn’t enter with me. Her face dropped, her eyes welled up. We leant forward and pecked one another on the lips. We stared deeply into the other’s eyes, both wondering when we’d next see each other, even wondering if it might be the last time. It was as if the clock had been turned back thirty two years.

That last time was at Male airport in The Maldives, I was being medi-vaced to London, having been told that if I didn’t catch the next flight out, I might not be alive to catch the one after. However, my fiancee, soon to be my wife, was abandoned as she watched anxiously from a window above me. Letters took ten days to get to our Male office and only went to the Atoll if our self-obsessed boss thought to forward them. Without news, this women who had just fallen in love with me, was continually concerned. Once I had recovered, I returned to work in the remote Atoll our charity was trying to nudge in to the 20th century.

Today, through the hospital windows, I can see her sitting on a bench beyond where ambulances keep arriving. She is reading in the sunshine. Things are a lot easier for me this time too, although a hospital’s accident and emergency is never a beach, I’m not seriously ill upon a long-haul flight. This visit is also better than my last A&E visit when I was rushed away from a dear friend’s wedding. Everyone was worried, even the doctors; that they were thoughtful and gentle made what was happening to me so much more bearable.

Today, the doctor caring for me was kind, empathetic. I thought of friends and others who the corona-virus had put in hospital and of tales of kindness helping them cope with this nasty disease. And that’s the point of this blog.

Empathy and caring attention, are powerful. As is love. They ease things. It is a simple gift we can give one another. All it costs is to step outside our own little ego and to see that the person beside you is equal to you, no better, no worse, and that they too want to be acknowledged, understood and appreciated. The amusing thing is that those capable of empathy live healthier, longer lives, research indicates this is because they are less tense, their minds are in tune with their brains and bodies. On this website there’s a neat little thing you can do to develop a sense of well-being.

We are generally so locked into our thought processes, assuming that the way we see things is the only way. Thoughts are the product of our world view and that depends on the attitudes we were encouraged to hold on to as we grew up. We assume these values are set in stone, but they shift over very short distances. In the deep valleys of the Pyrénées, if you get to know the original locals you find that the way they look at things shifts, as does language, from valley to valley. Those folk over that high ridge, hardly seen over the centuries, view the world in their own peculiar way. The arrival of the motor car has enabled these once separated peoples to mix and mingle to an extent that the current generation appear to feel they have roughly the same outlook and identity.

Donald Trump may not agree, but understanding each other is the first step towards a better world. The understanding and empathy showered upon me in hospital still resides in my ‘heart’.

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