My friend Jane has just been adopted by a two week old stray kitten. It needs to be hand fed every two hours: 24 hours a day... Jane is one of the most loving women I know, but for many of us, this would just be too much hassle.
It got me thinking that this really could be seen as a joy or as a burden.
If it is seen as a joy, then the nurturing, care and attention that is lavished on the kitten really does come back to us immediately. As she loves and cares for the kitten, she is bathed in those emotions in that present moment. By loving and caring freely for another being, she is also loving and caring for herself, her inner child...
Each of us has an inner child, a part inside us that remembers the fun of playing barefoot, of the simple joy of being able to move our bodies, of side-splitting laughter and naughty treats! We also have memories of moments when we were let down by others, forgotten or treated more harshly than we deserved.
I finally ‘get’ that as we love and care for another - whether it a person, an animal or even a plant - we generate emotions of love and care that wash through us, nourishing us in the present moment and healing the scars of the past.
If we treat the opportunity to nurture, care for and develop another as a burden, we create harder, colder emotions – like resentment, anger and frustration. They too wash through our bodies, but their legacy is very different. They reinforces the negative and can even intensify an emotional tapestry of pain and anguish that is also part of being human.
In every moment we have a choice about how we respond to any event. Is it a burden or a joy?
Even if it is not joy-full, it can cease to be a burden by the mere fact that we accept it and work with it.