Silently, he stands in the corner of the room as people keep passing by, saying hello, laughing, hugging each other. His greyish hair, huge sad eyes and thin, tall figure suggest seriousness and intelligence of the delicate kind. What a strong contrast he is to our, loud, giddy, lively crowd! Before he could introduce himself, at least five puns make his eyes roll (or so I feel), our bawdy sense of humour knows no boundaries. “Poor guy, what a first time-experience, we scare him away”, I think to myself.
“Sorry, words don’t come to me easy. Errr. It is difficult. Well… I live on my own, have always been like this. I’m forty-seven years old, have been on disability pension for twenty-five years. Errr… Mainly for depression and… well, errr, other mental disorders, linked to, hmm, mood. I think I’ve never been this low though”, he says.
It takes nearly an hour to see a smile cross his face for the first time, and I feel relieved. I sense how everybody in the room does their best to… well, not quite to “cheer him up”, but rather show him an alternative. An option. These people have been through a lot, there are remarkable and striking stories behind their twisted jokes and sparkling laughter. And I’m grateful I have seen some of these true fairy tales unfold… oh, how much I’ve learned, learned and changed, learned and changed, and I can’t be grateful enough.
I watch him from the corner of my eye, and sense the deep, silent pain he is in, even though he tries hard to conceal it. Part of me suffers with him for a moment: I’m able to relate to the endless cycle of numbness, hope and disappointment on a level that surprises me. For a second, I can grasp his loneliness, the WHY’s cried out in the middle of the night, not understanding what is wrong, but still knowing that this life is not worth living. I feel the heavy weight on my chest, the constant, painful, unanswered question “what’s wrong with me” echoing in my head, while knowing that I’m forever unwanted – no matter what I do, I never truly belong.
And then, at the bottom of it all I see a dim light. A light so faint I can barely make it out. Nevertheless, it is there, with an aura of dignity around it. For a second, I love him with all my heart, and would feel the same was he in the mortal form of a hundred-year old lady or a six-year old child. I watch this human being, and see something beyond the flesh – again, yes, it is one of those rare moments. I’m lost for words each time I have to define how or why I sense the pearl in the shell in the weirdest situations.. when for a moment I grasp the fragile humanity merged with the indestructible divine.
Is it about arriving in the Now, being in the present, putting aside judgement? I have no idea, there is no conscious effort behind it, it just happens… like other things happening inside of me. Probably if I could hold on to this state of mind for more than a second, I would be an enlightened being… or a holy fool, perhaps. Never mind.
So we laugh again, Z. fell asleep during the closing meditation and began snorring as if the world was about to fall apart. We are cracking up again, and finally, he laughs with us wholeheartedly. Would he ever join us again? I wonder. Some people just come and go.
The next time I see him with a pale smile in the corner of his mouth.