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I have evolved through the years to the point of living, as best I can, my personal motto:

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I am connected to everything and everyone, everywhere ©

This means there are no differences between myself and others in any way. Race, skin colour, salary level, past transgressions or future trajectories cannot divide me from other members of the human race. Personal life circumstances have brought me to this place through the vicissitudes of life: near death, racial victimization, gender inequality, heart ache, disappointment, emotional pain, and struggle interspersed with exhilaration and extreme joy.

Paradoxically, it was excruciating physical pain that would stretch my notion of connectedness beyond its current limits and ultimately change me in ways I could not imagine.

Due to physical injury, I found myself suddenly struck down with immense physical pain that was so blinding I could not see, hear, or feel anything other than its demand for attention. The pain cut like a knife over and over again for days and would not abate. With no effective medication to numb the pain I lay victim to its whims. Wave after wave of hurtful pounding, it left me isolated in the moment with no past or future to care about.

Helplessly, I simply let it do its work. Some days later I was given relief in an emergency ward far too busy with life-threatening illnesses to attend my pain in a hurry. I was still breathing and not bleeding, but nonetheless, I was in shock and traumatized by the body’s insistence on giving me signals of throbbing agony. Incredulously, with each wave of tormenting pain came a vision and experience that transported me into deep layers of humanity normally hidden from my view.

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With throngs of pain I suddenly sensed the agony of war victims all over the world. I felt their limbs blown off, their body’s reaction to wounds and injury with no hope of relief. In another wave I was transported to cancer wards, feeling the throbbing, nauseating pain of the disease having its way with its hosts. In yet another wave, I was catapulted to the streets of cities as a homeless person in agony and torment.

I was then in the experience of an addict with so much physical and emotional pain, a new level of knowing came for any form of relief. For hours and hours I was physically experiencing deep levels of human suffering I could never have known unless I was in it. Unable to speak, unable to move, I simply birthed the suffering of humanity through my own cells.

After a week of slow recovery and pain management I can only now see how this experience has transformed me. I was birthed once again into a new world I did not know existed. Though I knew it intellectually, I did not “know it” in my being. A level of wakefulness stretched through my being into every cell, making me into someone new. With each pang of pain came a much larger, global experience that I can no longer deny.

The pain and suffering of many on our planet became my pain because I was given the experience of knowing them, and caring about them, and ultimately loving them for what they endure. As each day passes I think of people I have known in the past that had to endure great levels of pain and only now can my heart truly open to them. Only now do I humbly have some idea of what they must have felt, and my heart opens even more.

I am changed for having had the experience and can never go back to not knowing what I now know. The hell of physical pain is a birthing passage to a new awareness. Humanity is connected through an invisible thread of pain running through each and every one of us. Suffering is a great teacher, albeit a difficult one, but it tethers us like an umbilical cord to the pulsation of life itself. If we allow the pain to do its work at the physical level, it will change us at every other level as well.

It will connect us to compassion as a deep, throbbing ache for others. It will evoke kindness and understanding from the fact that everyone has life trials of their own. Gratitude will emanate in waves for the simplest pleasures. Like a beautiful new baby birthed into the physical world by its mother, we too are birthed by our labour into a new world where we are connected to everything and everyone, everywhere; without exception.

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