To Care

Here is a common refrain: if you are having problems with depression and you need more gratitude, focus on serving others.

Here is my problem: what if the majority of your existence is already serving others? What if the cause of your emptiness is that you are giving all day, and there are people after people looking at you to give more, pleading with you to help them in a way you simply do not know how to help?

I know we so often taken for granted things like food, but how do you be grateful for food when you can’t taste, you’re nauseous, you don’t feel hungry at all, and you are simply putting food in your mouth and mechanically chewing, because you know the vehicle of your body technically needs fuel?

The part that seems so rarely discussed is that in caring for others, you carry their burdens. It is not a costless equation; far from it. For you to lift suffering is to take at least a measure of suffering upon yourself. This is by no means an argument that it shouldn’t be done. But it does seem unusual and cruel to turn it into a job.

Care for your neighbor, yes. Dredge up all the neighbors and ship them off to be cared for, the pain and weight falling on those deemed appropriate to care? How can it not become more than can be carried? Is it right at all to learn to not care, to build up walls between you and others, to get a callous to protect yourself? We justify it on the grounds of still being able to do the work, but then there are a hundred thousand people begging that we learn to be vulnerable, that we don’t actually have human connection with each other.

Is it fair to say that since I care more than you, it is my right and responsibility to learn to care less? Or do I merely endorse the destruction of my human self on the twisted framework of society? Or is this what it means to be poured out like a drink offering: painful and soul-sucking and right and true for the passing breath of this life?

If the latter-most is true, it makes you long for the end of the age. I can find nothing to refute it, but it bleeds the hope out of tomorrows. The draught put before you will never be empty, never be less bitter, will never choke less when you swallow. Where do you put the gratitude in that, other than hoping that someday it will all be over?

It hurts.

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