written November 29, 2010
I’m riding the light rail this morning, headed for my first radiation treatment. The sky was pale orange around the edges when I left home. Now it’s pale blue, but with clouds gathering around the edges. I watch the people waiting for the train as we pull into each station and wonder where they’re going. Probably work for most of them. Those with dress pants and nice shirts might work in offices. The more casually dressed, perhaps, do more physical work. Some could be high school or college students on their way to class.
I wish I could slip inside other heads and feel what those people feel, see life from others’ perspectives. But I’m only given one set of eyes and ears, one mind to think with, and I’m chained to my own perspective. I can only guess how others feel. And that explains why relationships bring so many misunderstandings.
Radiation begins, a new experience. And only those sisters who have been through it really know how it feels. Yet each of them also carries her own perspective, her own thoughts and fears and strengths, her own ways of coping. Yet I can learn from them. I treasure the connections I’m making at breastcancer.org, where sisters–and the occasional brother–can share and help each other. I learn from their perspectives.
And I realize that, while I may not be able to see through another’s eyes, I can listen their words. As I listen, I can begin to understand at least a little about how they see the world and how it affects their lives. I can learn from them. As I listen and learn, my perspective on life can begin to expand. And perhaps I can become a little more empathetic even toward those with whom I disagree.