On Loving a Stranger:Perhaps trying, despite it seeming too idealistic - to apply a speck of your imagination and generate 10 background stories a day about the people you meet - is what could help to see that it might be in fact one of the important things in life to care for. I am fully aware of how unnatural the task and believing in it could seem but my own experience has brought me to a point where i could defend this idea (and not merely an idea but also a posture in practise) tirelessly. having experienced the exuberance and richness that can be ones personal gain from looking behind facades, showing love where it's hardest to do (and yes, it can be incredibly difficult), has taught me that the task could be an incipient of ones own integral transfiguration in addition to a gentle move towards another. Remembering how undeserving we ourselves often are of this kind of gentleness (yet very much in need of, no matter what we think of ourselves or the world) makes it easier to sacrifice the time and patience to think in a considerate manner of another, even a stranger. I see this as one of the channels into the more unfathomable depths of life: every human being (i like to think that even a fragment of them) is a new story with thousands of nuances told by life itself. To see, behind hideous apperances, another human that is not too much different from ourselves may open us up to a closer understanding of other people, ourselves, situations and then help as obtain resilience useful in debilitating times. Love itself, this way, can turn into an inner resource, a little sun somewhere between your ribs and if needed into a form of true fruitful rebellion.
Maria Urbel
The night before brain surgery, I thought about death. I searched out my larger values and I asked myself, if I was going to die, did I want to do it fighting and clawing or in peaceful surrender? What sort of character did I hope to show? Was I content with myself and what I had done with my life so far? I decided that I was essentially a good person, although I could have been better--but at the same time I understood that the cancer didn't care.I asked myself what I believed. I had never prayed a lot. I hoped hard, I wished hard, but I didn't pray. I had developed a certain distrust of organized religion growing up, but I felt I had the capacity to be a spiritual person and to hold some fervent beliefs. Quite simply, I believed I had a responsibility to be a good person and that meant fair, honest, hardworking and honorable. If I did that, if I was good to my family, true to my friends, if I gave back to my community or to some cause, if I wasn't a liar, a cheat, or a thief, then I believed that should be enough. At the end of the day, if there was indeed some Body or presence standing there to judge me, I hoped I would be judged on whether I had lived a true life, not on whether I believed in a certain book, or whether I'd been baptized. If there was indeed a God at the end of my days, I hoped he didn't say, 'But you were never a Christian, so you're going the other way from heaven.' If so, I was going to reply, 'You know what? You're right. Fine.'I believed, too, in the doctors and the medicine and the surgeries--I believed in that. I believed in them. A person like Dr. Einhorn [his oncologist], that's someone to believe in, I thought, a person with the mind to develop an experimental treatment 20 years ago that now could save my life. I believed in the hard currency of his intelligence and his research.Beyond that, I had no idea where to draw the line between spiritual belief and science. But I knew this much: I believed in belief, for its own shining sake. To believe in the face of utter hopelessness, every article of evidence to the contrary, to ignore apparent catastrophe--what other choice was there? We do it every day, I realized. We are so much stronger than we imagine and belief is one of the most valiant and long-lived human characteristics. To believe, when all along we humans know that nothing can cure the briefness of this life, that there is no remedy for our basic mortality, that is a form of bravery.To continue believing in yourself, believing in the doctors, believing in the treatment, believing in whatever I chose to believe in, that was the most important thing, I decided. It had to be.Without belief, we would be left with nothing but an overwhelming doom, every single day. And it will beat you. I didn't fully see, until the cancer, how we fight every day against the creeping negatives of the world, how we struggle daily against the slow lapping of cynicism. Dispiritedness and disappointment, these were the real perils of life, not some sudden illness or cataclysmic millennium doomsday. I knew now why people fear cancer: because it is a slow and inevitable death, it is the very definition of cynicism and loss of spirit.So, I believed.'s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life
Lance Armstrong