Last night, I couldn’t get to sleep. The academic year is ending, my kids are growing up. Our 10-year-old has also started antibiotic treatment for a suspected case of Lyme disease, caught early after a field trip; I was stewing about that. Strangely, my sister has just been diagnosed with Lyme after six years of thinking she had fibromyalgia. Anyway, the world was closing in on me last night, and I was still awake at two in the morning.
I’ve learned not to fight insomnia. I see sleeplessness as an opportunity to change or do something new. So I got up, warmed a cup of organic milk, and sat down to read a book Sam Keen mentioned in April at the Omega “Being Fearless” workshop: Milton Mayeroff’s slim volume “On Caring.”
This is a wonderful, quick book to read any time, especially great if you’re taking care of an aging parent or growing child, or working a public interest job, engaged in the business of caring without getting thanked much.
Just as interesting as the book are the remarks of others in italics at the start. Wonderful quotes like this one from the famous psychotherapist Carl R. Rogers, a lifelong student of human character:
He wrote: “…the degree to which I can create relationships which facilitate the growth of others as separate persons is a measure of the growth I have achieved in myself…”
Nice! Here’s Mayerhoff’s description of how people find their purpose and place on earth:
Man finds…his place by finding appropriate others that need his care and that he needs to care for. Through caring and being cared for man experiences himself as part of nature; we are closest to a person or an idea when we help it grow. There is a rock-bottom quality about living the meaning of my life that goes, oddly enough, with greater awareness of life’s inexhaustible depths; it is as if life is ordinary and “nothing special” when it is most extraordinary. And although we find a deep-seated intelligibility in life, the last word is with the unfathomable character of existence which, like a pedal point in a piece of music, pervades and colors life.
I think a lot of people these days feel that they are going nowhere when they’re not doing something that contributes to their own reputation or fame or financial status. I love this book because it shows the reader that caring for others, helping others become free, is the most important thing, it is “the” thing. And people engaged in the daily caring for a child, pet, aging parent are blessed and of paramount significance.
Needless to say, upon reading “On Caring” for only a few minutes, I felt very much at peace and ready for bed, and I fell into a gorgeous sleep that didn’t last as long as I needed, but was good enough.
I’m going to stop blogging for the day, and work to figure out this new software Beliefnet’s got me using. The Chattering Mind blog looks better, doesn’t it? Certainly easier to read. But any tech change throws me and I need time to adjust and take care of myself! Thanks for reading.
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