Thinking about my newest volunteer project brought new meaning to the thought that everything happens for a reason. If the experiences of the last twelve months had not happened I would not be nearly as prepared to take on starting a writing group with nursing home residents. Instead of thinking why me I now see the reason for everything that happened.
A year ago I spent two weeks in a hospital bed being forced to adhere to the rules set by my doctor and nurses. It isn't that they weren't friendly. It is just that I had to do stuff that was totally against what I had planned for my life. For instance, who wants a tube inserted through their nose and ending up in their stomach? Forget about food, that came in the form of liquid coming from another tube. Because of the experience I can now sympathize with someone who fights living in a sterile facility where personal freedom is challenged.
My next teaching experience started in about January and continued for six months. It amounted to daily back pain so severe that I almost became an invalid before it ended. Considering that I had previously thought of myself as being very healthy, this was quite a shock. Because of this experience I can now relate to people who through no fault of their own suffer with daily pain.
During these lessons I also experienced how it feels to be totally alone with nobody who cared about my situation. My phone didn't ring and no one stopped by to see if I needed anything or just to offer human contact. I went through all the major holidays last year and this year alone. I am sure many nursing home residents have their own horror stories along these lines. My recent experiences will no doubt cause me to be more compassionate.
Looking at the bigger picture I can see that I needed these experiences and the time it took to live them to better prepare for my next adventure.