Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The human experience

I love those days where you wake up before the alarm goes off, and despite having gone to bed late, you're ready to take on the day. Where you have clarity and purpose simultaneously. Today is one of those days. I have been reflecting on how I am doing so far this year in honouring my values and goals. I have really been enjoying taking a few minutes each evening to write in my gratitude journal the day's experiences I am thankful for. Some days gratitude comes easier than other days. The best days are those when I feel truly supported by my friends, family and coach. I feel part of a community, a network of people who wish nothing but the best for my life.

One of my personal values is community - building, nurturing and including others in an environment that supports them in being their greatest self. That's how I've tried to live my life for many years, and that is one of the reasons that coaching and I are such a great fit. I firmly believe that it takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to create joy and happiness in our lives. Sometimes I feel like we are wandering away from the village, like lost children. I feel like "community" is being eroded, being defiled by culturally encouraged narcissism. It's every person for themselves, it seems. 

The age of narcissism has been slowly encroaching on us. In my English Literature studies, we noted the prevalence of the biography as a genre of literature. And with social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and blogging sites, we're all the stars of our own show. It wouldn't surprise me if there was a new diagnosis for people who are obsessed with the idea of fame and popularity beyond the idea of high school. Me. Me. Me. 

Of the seven billion people on this planet, someone somewhere is feeling the feeling you are right this minute. Their circumstances may not be the same, but there is someone struggling with loss, addiction, depression, relationships imploding, confusion, sadness, being overwhelmed. There is someone out there who is celebrating joy, births, marriage, a first kiss. That is what connects us. Our human experience. It is our humanity that connects us at the deepest level. And if we're to believe media messaging and cultural persuasion, we are fully sufficient human beings as individuals. You're weak if you need help. You're weak if you're imperfect. 

I veto this idea. 

From our hunter-gatherer roots, we have shared our meals, our villages, our children, our accomplishments and our losses. For such an evolved tribe, we've certainly turned into a bunch of pill-popping, drink swilling, excess shopping zombies. People don't talk to each other anymore unless it is on a computer. We're more connected (thanks to the internet) than we have ever been, but we're more disconnected, too. Discontented, too. I've had to work very hard to tap into new communities with my two recent moves from Vancouver to San Francisco to Dallas. I need to connect, face to face, to other human beings. To be part of the human experience.

I don't believe in perfection - we all have our flaws and they shape who we are. What I have found by just being vulnerable and open about who and where I am in the moment, whether it be a good day or not, there is a connection with the other human being sitting across from me. By letting my guard down, I give them permission to do the same. In that moment, I am offering compassion, support and love. We are all capable of this. We've just forgotten how. 

What I ask of you is this: if you have a friend who is in need of love and support, don't wait for the "right time" to give them support. Ask them today how they're doing, and let them know what they mean to you and that they have your support, compassion and love. Sometimes hearing that someone cares is enough to help lift them from that dark place.

And if you're in need of support, reach out. Please. You don't have to go it alone. 

We have such great capacity for love in each of us. Choose love today. 

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