The man I write about, has had a serious mental illness for years. I had not asked about him for a long time and when I did, what I heard was a story that warmed my heart deeply.

His story

This man’s illness was diagnosed in his late teens. It always seemed to me that his family relegated him to a very isolated, lonely existence where he was forced to search out others to care for him. His family was there to support at arms length, but no closer, and as I was to learn in later years, if you have not walked in such a family’s shoes, it would be unwise of you to judge. In truth, their arm’s length support might have been the greatest gift they gave him.

This man went through many relationships and his family hovered but no more. Time has taken him to a place of community. By most standards he is poor, very poor, yet with his community he plants a garden in the summer and shares the harvest with those who are really poor. In winter he and his friends make meals for the less fortunate. It is not that he is without challenge, but it is that he has found himself and his place. How many of us could say as much?

And the essential wisdom? By all accounts this man as an adult has never measured up…mentally ill, highly dependant, poor and what? Doesn’t fit…into the societal norm? Yet why do I feel that the pain, the loneliness and the poverty have served as gift, a gift that has made him more compassionate, more giving, and more loving and loved, than most of us could ever hope to be.

Author's Bio: 

Judee Regan is an intuitive Business Consultant, an engaging Speaker, a wise Elder, a gifted Storyteller and Author of the book ‘Meaningful Work…the Entrepreneurial Way: Your integrated guide to Career and Personal Life Management’ and book publications in electronic form as well as textual CDs. (This story is one of Judee's Essential Wisdom stories.) Judee champions taking responsibility for your own life through action, contribution and Work-Life wholeness and well-being through awareness, vision, and choice. Learn more about her philosophy her publications and her services at http://www.worldofwork.com .