I remember, at a particularly low point in my life after a breakup, feeling weak in body and spirit, I reached out. This reaching out on a physical level was difficult because at the time I could not articulate what kind of help I needed, so within the privacy of my room at night I would sometimes reach out my arms to the air as a gesture of request for assistance.
What came to me eventually did not appear in the form of the other - a saint or representative from a school of faith - but myself, if a future form. This future "me" was in a different place in his life, with more experience and strength than the present, weakened me had. I simply felt my own future hand on my shoulder, a gesture of compassion.
What I realize now is this future me is the one who is now writing these words, and I am in no way at the end of my own journey. I sometimes forget to reach out in the same way that the younger me did, for assistance. When I do remember, I realize that the hand that comes to rest on my shoulder is from yet another incarnation of a future me, and that even in my weakened, former state, that younger man embodied elements of empathy and compassion that could be felt by another if his hand were to rest on a shoulder. We - all the versions of myself - are actually a circle of hands resting on shoulders.