Today I sit in stillness out in my backyard with my animals filled with great peace. At this moment, I am alone, but I am not lonely. I feel a strong connection to myself and to the world around me. It was not long ago, that the connection I felt to the world around me left me feeling overwhelmed or uncertain. I suffered panic attacks then. But today, I can notice that this is no longer the case and I am grateful. Life sure is a journey. It is filled with ups and downs and then more ups and downs…and just when you think you’ve gone as far down as you can, you realize there is a basement you haven’t even visited yet. I say this, with a smile on my lips and a chuckle in my heart because I know these things well. I have had my fair share of experiences that could be considered “down”. But as I sit here, in silence with myself and the sounds of the wind chimes blowing in the breeze, I feel only gratitude for every pain and suffering I have experienced because to feel this peace is worth every ounce of the struggle. To feel content was worth every moment of loneliness. To feel joy was worth every heart-aching tear. It kind of makes me realize that the painful moments weren’t actually over until the peace finally came, and when that happened, those “painful moments” were no longer painful, but transitory and temporary and part of the larger picture.
I can’t say I know what any of you have been through in your own lives… but I can almost guess that we are similar. I can guess that you have also struggled. That you have also had your fair share of the ups and downs. We all have our ups and downs. It is part of the human condition. We don’t know each other’s experiences, nor can we. All we can do as humans is to listen to others express their own experiences and share our own experiences in an attempt to find a common ground to connect. When you can’t connect with others, you will feel alone, and this is an “alone” that can lead to loneliness. When we can’t make connections to others in healthy ways, we feel discarded and we feel unworthy. All these feelings can get very heavy. And in this world where we are already overstimulated and overwhelmed, that heaviness quickly can spiral into negativity. What can we do about it? I wish I knew the answers. All I know is that in these tumultuous times, where we seem to be experiencing greater divides than ever, if we shift what we focus on, to our commonalities, perhaps we can find connection, which could, in turn, lead to some emotional relief in our own heart centers. And this could maybe help us have more energy to focus on solutions to our differences. I know this is a tricky concept, I hope I can do it justice.
We are all different – having completely different experiences. Let’s call it “uniqueness”. We are all unique with our own unique experiences. If we use our minds and faculties to focus on our differences, the space between us as individuals gets larger… And our ability to connect to each other gets more challenged. If we use our minds and hearts to find ways to find connection to each other, I believe it will help us solve some of the problems that we are experiencing because of the things we call “differences”. By finding a connection between you and someone who is not like you, you are able to tap into compassion, and it forces you to use your empathy and your brain, to find a common thread. (It can be as simple as just saying to yourself, “This person is struggling too.”) Whether it is in personal relationships or in business transactions, we are all after all, human. So we really do have a lot in common. If we do this, then we focus on ways to connect rather than ways to disconnect from each other. And then we can use the energy we save by not being as upset, or creating walls, to solve problems. Because it is true that we are different as well a being similar. ( Are you following me?) And in order of us to evolve instead of destroy each other, we need to remember acknowledge both our similarities and our difference. Learning about where we are different from each other helps us grow. For instance, I learn when I read about another person’s approach to life that is different than mine. If I look at someone’s experience that is different than mine, who used different methods to solve a problem, or create a business, or look at life, then I can learn. But if I think of that person as so different than I, I won’t really be able to use that knowledge and apply it to me, because I think I am so different. Conversely, if I use the energy to find a common ground, i.e., that we are both human, or that we are both wanting to make good business in the world, or want to examine life with passion, or solve a similar problem, then when I read their viewpoint, even if it is different than mine, I can learn from it and apply it. It starts for me with a connection. This is how I try to live. Without finding the connection between us before we look at differences, then we can use the differences to create a divide between us. When we look at someone and immediately choose to see “different” then we have no need to have further interaction, no need to go closer. If we choose to see similar, ( No matter how different they appear on the outside), then we can get closer and their differences become a way for us to learn and expand our own selves beyond our preset limitations. We see so many examples of people choosing to see differences and pushing away from each other. It is sad. Heartbreaking actually. As a race, the human race, it’s sad to see us breaking into pieces. If we choose to use our mind – our incredible intellect, and wisdom, our intuition, and our gifts of cognition to diligently track down places of commonalities, places where we are similar, and use that as a bridge to connect to others, we might find that the world becomes a place were we are connected to each other. It opens our hearts and minds for healthy expansion via connection. It decreases the feelings of loneliness, which in turn could make us more responsible for things beyond our immediate and selfish needs. This equals better community.
If I am sitting at a bus stop with a homeless person who is crying and screaming profanities and scaring everyone around us. Instead of thinking, they are dangerous or “crazy”. I try to think about how they are feeling. They must be pretty sad, they must be really frustrated with someone or something. How would I feel if I were in their shoes? Asking these types of questions helps me to understand instead of reacting. I don’t have to get in their way, I don’t even have to engage with them. But I have connected to them. I have tried to step into their shoes for a minute to gain understanding. It helps because when I leave the situation, I feel less assaulted by their actions. I feel more compassion and more connection which in turn could lead to me going home and reaching out to a homeless shelter to volunteer or donate some of the clothes I have at home that I don’t need, for those who have much less and who are struggling with their daily needs. If I chose the other way to handle it, which is to see this person as someone very separate from me… with nothing in common, then I might just be irritated that this person has come into my space and violated the energy with their loudness and harsh words. And then, I walk away from the situation irritated and upset – upset that my day was ruined by this “crazy” homeless person.
The truth is, we don’t know each other’s sufferings. We can’t. We can only know our own. What we can do for others who are suffering is to show up with compassion and a desire to understand. We can share our own experiences in hopes that a bridge is created between two souls. A bridge that can inspire trust. And hopefully from that trust, a garden of understanding can start to grow. Wouldn’t that be nice?