What lies between you and me?

attentiveness

Loneliness is an epidemic. That heart to heart connection with others, our world, our communities is lost as we race from one To Do to the next. Superficial greetings take the place of deep conversation, and we substitute more for better.

When was the last time you felt truly heard by another person–not heard so they could diagnose you or give you instructions for how to do better–but heard as though someone paused to notice the real you, the deep down you?

When was the last time you paused to consider another person, not as a means to an end on your own journey, but as a person with their own dreams and heart desires, their own wants and needs, their own untold story hoping to be heard?

When was the last time you paused to consider the world around you, from the beauty of nature to the miracle of your own next breath?

Perhaps our loneliness epidemic would be eased if we all were to slow down and notice each other, pause to realize we are here for each other,  and be vulnerable enough to allow ourselves to see and be seen.

Mary Oliver’s poems open us in so many ways– to nature, to each other, to our own hidden places. Perhaps this one on loneliness will speak to you today:

Loneliness

When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice
something you have never noticed before,

like the tambourine sound of the snow-cricket
whose pale green body is no longer than your thumb.

Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,
shaking the water-sparks from its wings.

Let grief be your sister, she will whether or not.
Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also,
like the diligent leaves.

A lifetime isn’t long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life.

Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.

In the glare of your mind, be modest.
And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling.

Live with the beetle, and the wind.

~ Mary Oliver ~

 

 

 

Don’t miss the joy.

penguinjoy

We generally find what we look for. We are good at it, and that skill helps us to recognize that one face in a sea of faces, to ferret out clues at a crime scene, to heed the landmarks that lead us home. But when we are trying to process a barrage of information coming at us all at once and trying to make sense of it without being overcome, we need to look for the unexpected things, the startling things, the beautiful things. We need to seek joy.

In his Book of Delights, Ross Gay goes on a mission to write about something delightful, everyday. And, while he initially thought he would have to scrounge for delights, after a bit of practice, he learned to find them everywhere. The delightful things were abundant and overflowing. More important, those delights made him realize how interconnected we are and that we are caretakers, each for the other. In a world that can seem cold and callous, we are generally good to each other:

I suppose I could spend time theorizing how it is that people are not bad to each other. But that’s really not the point. The point is that in almost every instance of our social lives, we are, if we pay attention, in the midst of an almost constant, if subtle, caretaking – holding doors open, offering elbows at crosswalks, letting someone else go first, helping with the heavy bags, reaching what’s too high or what’s been dropped, pulling someone back to their feet, stopping at the car wreck – at the struck dog, the alternating merge, also known as the zipper. This caretaking is our default mode, and it’s always a lie that convinces us to act or believe otherwise – always.

As we scrounge for our delights, we begin to see them all around us–the groceries grown and harvested for us to enjoy, the clothes crafted and sewn, the traffic signs to keep us safe, the laughter of children, birdsong, smiles from neighbors, our dog eager for her morning walk. As we notice those delights, we metaphorically feel the embrace of a larger community and feel the joy from being lucky enough to be right here, right now, plop in the middle of the mystery of it all.

Be amazed.

amazement

When was the last time you were amazed? Maybe it’s time to look around you and marvel. The complexity, the beauty, the interconnection of all things. The realization that all this amazingness swirls around you and in you and through you every second of every day. That you live and breathe it, that you are a part of it –both inside as something to be marveled at yourself, and outside as something to behold the beauty and majesty of it all and marvel. And then love it all intimately despite the vastness.

To thine own self be true

trueself

You’re unique, let’s face it. And, despite what the world may try to tell you with advertising, cliques, and trends, your individuality is your strength. There are so many ways we are alike as people, and that’s important to notice because it shows us that we are all one, interconnected and kin.

But the ways we each stand out from the crowd are important to highlight, too. We each have different gifts and talents, hopes and dreams, yearnings and accomplishments, history and life lessons, strengths and weaknesses, past and present, all rolled into a one-of-a-kind package. There is no being just like everybody else because no one else is exactly like you. Those differences define you and are your super power because you can offer the world something that no one else can give: you.

And always one more time.

mayalove

It takes courage to love, doesn’t it? Particularly after we’ve been hurt and know how vulnerable we can be. How much safer it would be to protect ourselves from being completely known, from loving wholeheartedly, from reaching out to others. But living behind a facade is a recipe for loneliness. Walling others out also walls us in. Going it alone directly contradicts the foundational truth that we are all interconnected whether we choose to be or not.

Love is the great adventure. It is the answer to the what, how, and why we are here. So have the courage to trust love one more time…and always one more time.

Happy Earth Day 2017!

earthday

Today is Earth Day 2017, a global celebration of Earth, its resources, and its diversity, and a chance to promote environmental protection. On Earth Day, we each have an opportunity to make our planet a bit cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable. We have learned so much about how interconnected life is and how each of us can make a difference to help sustain earth’s resources for future generations.

What will be your contribution to the planet you call home?

For ideas, consider this article for DailyGood.org by Shari Swanson.

We’re hitched.

hitched

Where do you stop?

Is it at your skin, that organ holding all your pieces all together? If it’s there, at your skin, how do your words fly out into the air and touch, maybe even wound, someone else? Does your you stop when your physical self passes away? If so, how do memories of you inspire your grandchildren to smile long after your death?

When did you start? Was is at your birth? If so, how do you carry the genetic material of all your ancestors that have come before? How are you influenced by events that occurred long before you were born?

Is your you sufficient and complete in itself? Or does your you depend on many others, both human and not human? The plants and trees for oxygen? Other people for companionship? The air, the moon, the stars, the sun, plants, animals, gravity……a giant web of life, really?

It is hard to isolate our actions. Instead they ripple out into the world around us, resulting in things sometimes seen but more often unseen.  In this delightful video, we see an orangutan preschool, a learning community. But, at the heart of the delight in these darling animals is a cold truth: they were orphaned, probably by people that walked and talked like we do. Instead of spending the first seven or eight years of life with their mothers, they are spending it with people trying to teach them how to be orangutans.

When we put out our ripples into this world, let our words be gentle and kind and our touch soft. Let us keep in mind that we are not separate from each other and nature, but that we all share this place we call home. We are all hitched.