On Saturday, three days after June’s lunar eclipse, I met a young man named Skyler.* He, like me, had mistakenly shown up 30 minutes early for yoga class. As I sat in the yoga studio’s waiting room, Skyler paced back and forth. I quietly observed him and noticed that his hands shook. I speculated: was his withdrawal from substance abuse what led him to yoga?
He began to tell me that he was the reincarnation of Kurt Cobain (note: Cobain died in 1994 and this young man was 21 years old so the math didn’t exactly add up… however, I decided to let logistics slide). His eyes filled with tears as he told me how his clairvoyance forced him to witness death on a daily basis, how he’d met Jesus Christ, and how he’d had a sword fight with the Archangel Michael on his front lawn earlier that day. He then closed his eyes and began fluttering his eyelids until I could see the whites of his eyes.
Rather than leave the room, I sat there and told him he had a gift.
What I saw in this troubled young man was his need to be relieved of the burden (whatever emotional, spiritual, or clinical burden that may be) he was struggling to carry. I was surprised to realize that I did not fear this unusual young man. Instead, I felt compassion toward him. I became aware of the fact that he was suffering more than I could even imagine.
As Mark Nepo says:
“…when you see someone stumbling with a stone in their heart, simply go near them and listen. When the pains of living feel sharp, open up your attention and give it freely, and the connections will even out the sharpness. When things feel heavy, reach out to whomever is near and distribute the weight.”
The conversation with Skyler in those 30 minutes before yoga class left me wondering if he would ever find a cure for his pain. I certainly hoped so. My interaction with him also left me with the perspective that, when we are in pain, there is always someone who is hurting more than us. And all we can do is be compassionate and fearless of the fact that life has led us to this strange place.
*Fictional name to protect privacy.