Taking Care Of

In the past few days of this month of August that came and ended too quickly, I have been reflecting on the attitude of "taking care of…", which feels normal, easy and obvious, but now I understand that it is not at all like that.

Taking care of something or someone is, as the great Italian song-writer Battiato masterfully said, recognising its preciousness: "because you are a special being and I will take care of you” (La Cura). Taking care therefore implies knowing how to see, how to recognise, how to appreciate, how to respect, how to honour, how to be grateful... "Taking care of", if done consciously, is loving unconditionally, because it means acknowledging the unique needs of the other and filling them with joy, without feeling any fatigue or sense of duty.

How capable am I really of “taking care of” myself and others in this way? How much can I really see and understand my preciousness and their preciousness? As I asked myself these questions I discovered that, although this seems easy, it is not simple, even when we love someone.

“Taking care of” involves becoming curious about who/what is in front of you and preventing your assumptions from telling you what is right for them.

Now I really realise that “caring for” is a big responsibility. And I'm also realising how many mistakes I've already made, because is very easy for an adult who considers him or herself intelligent and expert to fall into the presumption of knowing. But "taking care of" is not just knowing; it is more about being curious about the other, collecting information and learning how to listen.

Over the past few weeks, my ignorance and presumption have unknowingly led me to sacrifice the life of a couple of aromatic plants, simply because I took care of them superficially, not really exploring their intrinsic characteristics, their preferences in terms of light/water/company. When I investigated, it was already too late to save them, because I had made too many mistakes. But the gift of their sacrifice was immense because it aroused in me the desire to reflect on why, despite the fact that I had faithfully taken care of them every day with (I thought) love, their health and vitality was not guaranteed.

Now I understand better, and I realise that "taking care of" is truly the greatest act of love I can perform towards another living being. But in order to be able to fulfil it, I must know them and I must know myself. If I have wounds, unresolved needs, beliefs that limit me, that I will inevitably bring into the relationship with them, limiting my capacity to truly see their preciousness and to listen to their needs. To really take care of someone else, I have to do it first with myself, I have to see my preciousness and find balance with my own vulnerabilities.

To take care of life I must truly understand what life is in all its forms and manifestations and rediscover humility with respect to its complexity and grandeur. 

This is precisely the point that now seems so clear to me: to really take care of someone else I have to learn to develop the gift of humility.

(Pic Credits Pedro Kummel for Unsplash)

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