Imagine if you will, your counsellor as a blind car guard.

He is an old man, with the years lined on his face.  Even though he cannot see into your soul, he had the clearest and brightest blue eyes you’ve ever seen.  It’s so sad that those beautiful eyes would never be able to look upon themselves.  Yet, he seemed very happy and at peace, the old man.

You were already cursing your luck as you drove up to the busy parking lot but still cried out at the heavens for help.  That was when the old man removed two orange cones from a parking bay, and called you over, offering you the spot as if he was holding that space just for you.  Thankfully you took the opportunity without regarding him much at first.  You struggled to get the car perfectly into the small space, going back and forth a few times, thinking that the car guard could at least do his job properly and tell you exactly how close you were to the car in front of you.

As you heard the car’s doors lock and turned to walk off, you returned the old man’s friendly greeting with a forced smile.  It was only then that you realised that the man is blind, and chuckled at yourself, wondering what he would be able to do in case of an emergency.

Time went by quickly and you returned with arms full of shopping.  As you walked back to your car, you were surprised to see the old man, deftly helping another patron pack her shopping away in the boot of her car before ushering her out of the parking and sending her off home, as if he could see that there were no other cars around; as if it was only her in his little world at that time.

His nametag said ‘John’.  He must have recognised your shoes or the way you walked, because he turned to you, took the heavy load from you and led the way to your car.  How would he even remember which one is yours?  You didn’t even know where it was until you pressed the remote and the short beep of the alarm sounded.

The two of you walked silently to your car, as if you were old friends; you know, no unnecessary chit-chat, and the comfortable silence…  He did not expect you to say anything you didn’t want to and did not probe with uncomfortable questions.  Yet, as you got close to your car, you automatically shared how pressed you were to get back home on time, that you left the house this morning after a huge fight (which you laughed off as being nothing, really), how you have been running around all day like a headless chicken, and not knowing how far you would get because the car has been running on empty for a while now.

The old man just patiently stood there holding your heavy bags, as you rearranged all of your shopping from earlier the day while ranting on about the places where you could stop on your way back, to fill the car.

At one point he remarked, “I can hear the tiredness in your voice, as well as the fear…  You must have had a really tough day.  I admire your courage though.”

You turned your head slightly as if appraising him and thought, what a strange thing to say, and how would he know how terrified I am?

He continued, “What I heard you saying is that you ‘have to’ get back home right away, yet what I see is that you are stalling, knowing there would be hell to pay when you get there…  How have you gone about resolving your quarrels in the past?”

Even though he couldn’t see you, you stared at him with your mouth hanging open.  You could see the genuineness and the honesty in his whole being.  He knew you were scared of what was to come.  He wasn’t giving you the advice that all your friends did, telling you that you should just leave and make a new start somewhere else, far away.

You wanted to push him to just tell you what to do, but you knew he wouldn’t.  It is not his life after all.  You knew that you need to live with your decisions.  And the beauty of it all was that he was just being present in the moment; just ‘holding the space’ for you to figure it out for yourself, without judgement, rebuke, criticism, blame or expectations.

You ended up talking for close to an hour, and by the end of it, you felt reassured and more at peace.  You have not worked out a solution yet, but you are getting there.

The Author: Frederik Pretorius (Humanitas Intern)

Here is a little bit more about him: 

Our lives are constantly being shaped by traumatic events or the loss of someone special, be it through death or through circumstances beyond our control like a divorce.

With this, we experience an overwhelming anxiety and sometimes a grief so deep that cannot be explained.  It is as if we are avoiding the pain.  We move back and forth into acceptance of the fact, then back out to fight it again.  Life is sometimes just so terribly unfair.

It would be impossible for me to comprehend what you are going through.  However, those who have ‘come out the other side’ of a painful journey have realised that time is just a temporary thing.  Everything is temporary.  So, be gentle on yourself and remind yourself that today – even this moment of unbearable heaviness – will also pass.

So, whether you are in the process of making peace and preparing for death, or if you are feeling overpowered with anxiety, or even when you have gone through a terrible ordeal and are just trying to make sense of it all… contact us through the Vita Nova platform.  Let’s talk.