Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH, Founder and President of the Foundation for Art and Healing, eloquently distills the essence of a heartwarming video of a marine’s visit with two marathon bombing victims and makes clear the role of art and telling our stories in helping us see and hold onto who we are.
Because of the homemade nature of the explosive device, the Boston Marathon bombing injured hundreds of spectators with wounds similar to those sustained by active duty combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these wounds were devastating to the lower extremities, requiring amputation. The video clip below was taken during a heartwarming visit of one such Marine, a bilateral amputee, to the hospital room of a marathon bombing victim who also lost both legs. In the simple but stunningly warm and caring conversation between two strangers, united by common wounds, one witnesses firsthand the power of human engagement, connection, empathy, compassion and support.
In his sharing of his own personal experience, one Marine says simply “This is the start,..this isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. Another Marine says, “This doesn’t matter,…this is just a change of scenery.” Just a change of scenery. That simple reminder opens the door to a realization that what is essential about who we are remains, even when much is removed. The Marine’s wise guidance invites us to consider the difference between the externalities of life that similar to “scenery”, passes us by without altering that which is vital within us, makes us who we are, and sustains us as we struggle with life’s challenges.
At another disruptive disaster a few months ago, this one the result of the destructive 100 mile an hour winds of Hurricane Sandy, thousands were left homeless and sought shelter in schools and community centers in Long island and New Jersey. In one such shelter in Queens, a creative art and expression therapist working with the traumatized children asked them to draw the things that matter to them that they have with them all the time. With this simple exercise, the children had the chance to differentiate the transitory “scenery” of life from what they will always possess, and in the end that was exactly the reassurance they needed. It calmed their fears, allowed them to sleep without nightmares, and in a real sense to return home.
As we head out each day into the challenges that face us and those we love, the one thing we can count on is that the scenery will always be changing. With a little “practice” perhaps we can all also learn to count on those things that will never change, our essential “one-ness’ and connection with each other that this lovely video so clearly conveys, our commonly shared aspirations for a better world, and hope for a better future for all of us and all who come after. Perhaps it’s how we all can return home.
Click here to view the video of the exchange between the Marines and the Boston marathon bombing victims: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy_LNYR-MiI&feature=youtu.be
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