“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word “Love” here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.” – James Baldwin
Dependence: the state of relying on or needing someone or something for aid, support or the like
Independence: freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like of others
Interdependence: mutually reliant on each other
It seems simple enough to read, but it is not always easy to move between these three states of being. It takes conscious effort and a commitment to evolving ourselves, honoring how we contribute to our communities, and also our need to be nourished by them. The middle path, it comes up again and again, balance. In every quadrant of our lives, it is easy to run from discomfort and crave pleasure with the cost being great imbalance that requires more pronounced effort to correct. We do this with food, with spending habits, with exercise, with healthy routines and with relationships.
Human beings need connection - we are not meant to live in isolation, we are meant to live in community. This is evidenced by the research on loneliness over the past decade. Research by Brigham Young University states that loneliness can be just as deadly as cigarette smoking and obesity, and it has hit an epidemic level. More and more, people are feeling a lack of connection. Some are isolated, but many are surrounded by people every day, and still lack deep meaningful connections. Our current culture trend has been technology dominant with a lack of real human interaction. Communication has often been short and without a voice, but rather a text or e-mail response. In addition, social media can give a misguided perception of what life “should” look like.
With all that has occurred in this triggering and transforming year, I feel there are a few themes showing up.
- It’s time to do the work – If nothing else this year has, through force or surrender, summoned our authentic selves to the surface. Those parts of ourselves we avoid hearing by staying busy all the time have had their voices expressed by the slowing down Covid created. The unknown, the fear of the last 4 months, have triggered people’s anxieties and insecurities. Our coping skills, beliefs, values and relationships have all been called to question and put to the test. There is a powerful invitation here to heal the places that are still wounded and hurting. There is a gift in being able to take an honest look at ourselves, what drives our behaviors, the motivations behind our decisions, and ascertain if we are content or if there is room for course correction. There is always room for growth, and we have the ability to learn and continue to evolve until we take our last breath. I, myself, am trying to embrace the soul unearthing and discovery process with curiosity and receptivity. To be gentle with myself in realizing where I have hardened or been operating out of self-protection or fear, and to be grateful in remembering my commitment to live from a place of love. For in the end, it is really our own conscience we will have to contend with, and being able to be at peace with how we have chosen to participate in this one messy and beautiful life. Imagine for a moment, that there is a series of events that stirs and awakens masses on the planet and nudges us all toward engaging in the life we have left (because you really never know) with eyes wide open, conscious, vulnerable and courageous.
- We need each other – We are biologically designed to cooperate and live in community. Our endocrine systems respond to this, our nervous systems, our immune systems, all respond positively to supportive community and connection. It is not about power dynamics and control, but rather in the realization that we truly are so much stronger together. We can accomplish more, and the accomplishments are vastly more fulfilling and rewarding. Healthy relationships and community can also expedite our individual, and collective healing. In being open to trusting another, and honoring the privilege of being trusted, there is space to give and to receive. There is room to offer perspective from a place of love and to receive it knowing it comes without judgment. To look for and enhance one another’s strengths and aspirations, and to support, to nourish the healing of one another’s weaknesses and fears, this is the beauty, the co-created gift of relationships rooted in interdependence. This journey is in all of our hands, it is the way we treat and the priority we give to the people we love, and the smile and greeting we share with strangers. It is remembering when we are suffering, that we are never alone in it, there is always someone, somewhere that is sharing our same fear and loss, and then choosing to awaken compassion over bitterness, hopelessness or resentment. Seek and cultivate meaningful connection and cherish and nourish the ones you have.
Soften. Listen. Keep your heart open. In all that is unfolding, still allow the pauses to hear the quieter voice inside guiding you to your truth, and follow it. If it feels community is in short supply, don’t wait for it to find you. Instead, find activities you enjoy, participate, be approachable and put the time in that new friendships require. It is a time where we can choose to see what divides us and separates us, or we can see what we have in common and what we share. Like it or not, what matters to human beings more than anything, are relationships, connections. Let’s take care of each other, be kind, and be brave, in love there is no difference.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. And as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson