I originally wrote this as a Facebook post for one of the ‘Pages’ I’ve tried to maintain — in an effort to connect with others through the aether. Today, #MLK2021 — this National Holiday feels like the first week of summer! I can think of no better message than this one — to pause and reflect on all that has transpired, before moving on to tackle the noble task before us, of unifing our torn country. (Yes, I’m talking to all of you Americans out there — wanting to #Believe in these truths we hold to be self evident... #WeAreCreatedEqual #WeMoveTogether) ~ Gods speed and Gods grace.
Summer is a time for rest, release and — consequently — receiving. There is no better time to connect with yourself and with others, than during the summer. Kid’s have got this stuff down — it’s a no brainer. They’ve fabricated few constraints of life. But adults? Well we’ve no time for this, we’ve meetings to keep and money to make — we’ve much bigger fish to fry.
So the question eternally becomes … under what pretext shall we connect? How much are we prepared to receive? Are we prepared to recieve at all? Also, what day and what time shall we do this? Forget about the who and where, thanks to our human tendencies for separation anxiety — we’ve all bowed beneath the weight of technology’s saddle. Our lives are measured and weighed in ways we never anticipated or even imagined. For many of us, our time and how we choose to spend it has become a constant source of anxiety and distress. Why? Because of the grand machinations and seemingly unattainable expectations we’ve become complicit with. We’ve given over our personal authority to live our lives as we wish, to a myriad of other inadvertently adopted responsibilities.
But I digress. My point is, summer is the perfect season to shove all of that aside and find out what is driving you forward. What is your heart’s bliss? What is your soul’s longing? Is it whispering it or shouting it to you? And most importantly, are you even able to hear what it’s trying to tell you? In all the hubbub of our daily routines, we often loose sight of the beautiful human beneath it all.
Succinctly put, I believe human beings are currently at an important crossroads. And when I say current, I mean for a good BLIP … say about 7 to 8 years of measured time. Now more than ever — because there so very many of us living, breathing and walking the planet— we need to tune in to our ability to empathize. No really, think about it — what does empathy require of us as people? When you stop and think about it, it’s not that difficult and yet it is quite possibly, the most difficult thing of all. Empathy requires personal recognition and acknowledgement — for better or for worse — as we are in the moment. Empathizing requires presence. If you can not be present with yourself, you can not be present to empathize with someone else. How hard can it be, right? So why is it so many of us fight or flee from being fully present? Because empathizing brings us to the edge of our own disfunction? We may be on to something here.
Speaking as a survivor of the 80’s and 90’s, I understand — intimately — how there can be a ton of reasons for escaping and even creating diversions. Personally, I often feel like escaping from being present because the truth and reality of the moment is too painful to endure. For me, empathy is my ‘daily dirty’ work. And more often than not, I will make it a point to put myself in an environment where I am forced to be around and interact with people I do not know. Call it penance or self flagellation, but the act of empathizing can make my head spin and my heart ache. There is so much perpetuated suffering and self inflicted pain all around us. This happens because it is easy — it is what is expected — it is a shallow swim through our days. But in our apathy and ignorance, we stumble through our days inadvertently hurting ourselves and consequently, compounding pain and suffering to others in our immediate (and yes, even removed) sphere. I’m not saying you should cordon yourself off from the rest of the world — you can not and should not. I’m just saying you need to listen to the inner voice inside you that knows better — the one that knows the best choices for your happiness and well being, the voice of your “wholly and happily connected human”. #Presence requires work. (And since we’re in the midst of a Pandemic, #WhyNot?) Mindfulness can demand intense focus at times — mostly to stop the incessant empty chatter of the mind. Your monkey mind can be so annoying — pulling you from real conversations with your true self. That monkey needs to be put out to bother his other brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews for attention. Perhaps in the chatter, that monkey will happen upon another monkey whom is also trying to #StayPresent.
Another big reason people flee from the moment is because presence also requires heart — a heart that is strong enough embrace the weight of the moment and move us through it. This kind of work is always promising because in recognition of the ourselves — our joy, pain, longing and even peace — there is ultimate potential for greater connection and understanding of ourselves and with others. This is the receiving part I was talking about. Do you want to live a full life of gratitude? Or do you want to poke and scrape and carve out a shallow and meaningless existence for yourself? (For those of you who did NOT survive the 80’s and 90’s, the “Age of Me, Me, Me” — DON’T ANSWER THAT.) When we connect in empathy, our perceptions of ourselves and each other are broadened. There is room for validation and forgiveness, of self and — in turn — others. And this feeling — of forgiveness — is the key to unlocking a multitude of possibilities. We forgive our selves for the misunderstanding we’ve held of our selves, when we learn the truth and reality of anothers existence.
We can not even dream of helping others in their pain or rejoicing in their victories until we serve ourselves with the sharp blade of presence that brings with it, humility.
Unfortunately, much of this necessary work is not even possible if we do not simply allow it for ourselves. Sadly, generation upon generation of us have been programmed to believe otherwise. Through the short-comings of our human programming and skewed personal perception, we have sabotaged our selves and the lives of those around us - damning us to an infinite loop of disconnected disillusionment and continued suffering. #WakeUp! We walk through life thinking we are in control of our lives, carrying the grand idea that we can sustain a life style for ourselves and our friends and family, when in essence we can not even attain our souls’ greatest longing — to humble ourselves and live our own uniquely humble, healthly happy lifestyle. Much of what we’ve been presented with thus far, in terms of options for living a life of quality, are sadly lacking. The grip of old programming dictates our failure to be authentically happy. This is why we continue to suffer, without question. Many of us have never even entertained the idea of such a person — of having the wherewithal to lead this type of extraordinarily lived life. But some of us have. And guess what? It’s not as hard as you might imagine. There is so much to be gained and everything to be lost, if we can not shed this mantle of the self imposed prison of our personal perception.
And I tell you my friends, summer (or the imposed vacation a Pandemic provides) is a great time to remove the blinders and open the doors and windows — allowing your light to shine, and allowing the light of others to shine in. Do it. #BeHumble Make yourself vulnerable. Greater and better choices will be illuminated along the way — choices that lead to peace, love and abundance. Are you up to the task? We can do this. We have to do this. Together — all of us. The alternative is dire, a protracted and ugly death — something we’ve been forced to imagine, because our current practice of procrastinating and evading the #truth does not give us the time, space or energy of personal dignity or honor. We need to change this. Wouldn’t you agree?
This opening week of summer (this #MLK2021 — if you’re searching for a reason to celebrate), with the solstice and the new moon (or the successful honoring of a personal goal), I propose we all really work at practicing — being present — for ourselves, so that when it is time to be present for and with others we are ready for the work of empathizing. If we are to move forward — on any human (or earthly) front — empathy is paramount.
Written 6/22/17, 3:30 pm, edited 1/24/2021 ~ #ThanksJoe
Yes, this was written pre-Pandemic — but not pre-Joe. I/We was/were born this way. ❤