Opinions on “help” are as diverse as there are people. The term itself is political. Why? Because the word “help” comes with an intrinsic assumption that the helper acts out of charity.
By definition then, this voluntary help is at odds with compulsory help (see taxation). The “have-nots” don’t welcome charity or pity—i.e. voluntary help. On the other hand, the “haves” abhor others meddling with their income—i.e. compulsory taxation—and vouch for the freedom to be great philanthropists out of their own volition.
On the other hand, “serving” is about taking back as much as we give. Offerings are surrendered with respect towards what is seen as the only way for personal development. Serving then, is an exchange. You serve others so as to help yourself.
People change. Every breath is a small rebirth. Our body evolves each day. All our molecules, in their entirety, regenerate within seven years. What does stay is Karma. And the sooner we deal with it the better.
I’m nowhere near burning through my karmic junk. Typing about it doesn’t resolve it. What it does though is bring it all up on the surface. Once exposed, right in front of us, we have to deal with it. No excuse.
Ten years ago my face changed, in more ways than one. I woke up one morning and convinced myself that problems would vanish if I improved the way I look.
I spent £4,000 on new veneers. For the unitiated, it involves chiseling the natural teeth and gluing porcelain fronts on them. The whole procedure took five visits.
Weeks into my new ‘smile’ I started receiving compliments about my teeth. Women were drawn closer I thought. I even got laid. Drunken with the perceived results I simply couldn’t stop there.
Anything sticking out in an asymmetrical manner is deemed unpleasant. And so it seems were my ears. Disproportionate, all over the place. The £800 twenty-minute operation to stitch them back on my head was a no-brainer. I was bandaged, swollen, bruised, and in pain for months. The result was okay, but not perfect.
The epitome of facial features. Our nose is our character, our resume, our ego. The £3000 operation didn’t go that well. What was referred to as a calcium built-up grew out of the bridge of my nose. I stared at the mirror dozens times everyday, praying for the bruises to subside and my nose to improve. It took months for the swelling to go. The numbness only cleared up after some years.
I was never comfortable with having them on my neck. I thought they looked revolting. Thought they were bad luck. I was a conscript soldier in Greece when I had them removed by a military surgeon. During the operation, two soldiers were literally tearing down a wall. The operating room was noisy and full of dust. It went okay in the end.
They looked like ‘telephone ears’. I wasn’t happy with them, so I had a corrective surgery. The surgeon that operated the first time had since died, so a colleague of his offered to fix my ears free of charge, save for the operating room fees, approx £200. I was happy with the outcome.
I couldn’t keep on living with that lingering thought. I had to do something. The surgeon behind the first nose job had since been fired. A colleague of his—apparently the top name in the clinic—offered to fix it.
I remember waking up after the operation and staring at the wall. I could hear a woman’s cries and screams from next door.
“Aghhhh… my nipples are too high!” she howled. “No! They don’t look normal!”
Few things are more traumatic than the moment those bandages are removed. When you’re confronted with your new breasts, teeth, ears or nose. I could feel for her. The disbelief, the helplessness.
I spent a solid three to four years worrying about the way I look. Ten years down the line I look back with some liberating detachment. Everything is still in place, except for the veneers. Porcelain has since cracked and pieces have fallen off. Not sure how attractive my smile is anymore. I don’t care.
Ten years on, I know enough to appreciate the “wabi sabi” of life. Everything is perishable, including our body and wealth. Ironically it is this realisation—the letting go of external validations and attachments—that leads to true joy and beauty.