Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What Are The Limits Of Your We?

"Kindred spirits will find each other." And when they do, they will recognize one another through an insider signal. A decoded moment. Some tiny detail that triggers a whole world, acts as shorthand for a shared culture, captures where the people have landed and encapsulates their edges. To me, this moment is sacred. Probably because it doesn’t happen that often. So when it does, it’s all hearts on deck. When I smell out someone’s identity, one that resonates with my own, I start missing them in my past. I curse the world for not connecting us earlier in life. I see them as the friend I always wanted to have, and hope that they feel the same way. I’m not a stalker, I swear. The beautiful part is, all of this happens in an instant. Even if it feels like a lifetime. It’s relativity at its finest. The dangerous part is, sometimes it happens so fast that we fail to recognize it. And we miss an opportunity to connect with someone special. We have to keep our specs peeled.

"Finding friendship with someone whose creative path parallels our own is a rare gift." The hardest time to make friends is when we feel bad about ourselves. Whether we’re experiencing pain, sadness, depression, loneliness, insignificance or a full blown existential crisis, nobody wants to start a new relationship with a train wreck. It’s simply not an attractive feature. People want to make friends with happy people. Which is ironic, because that’s precisely when we need friends the most––when things work the least. Looking back, I bet most of us would agree that the biggest withdrawals from our human capital accounts seemed to occur when life was at its lowest. Funny how that works. All the more reason to dig our wells before we’re thirsty. To make friends before we need them. Because the only thing worse than feeling like shit is feeling like shit in a corner.

"What are the limits of your we?" Belonging is a complex experience. I used to think it was a simple matter of feeling like you fit in. But I’m learning that belonging is about a bigger, broader and deeper we. It’s about the entire reality of our connectedness with other people. It’s about the role we play in the human family. And it’s about what we’re part of that’s bigger than just us. The hard part is, if we want to fully inhabit our ideal we, belonging will confront us with the places we have to stretch and grow. I remember when I transitioned from the freelance world to a team environment, I was sick for the first two weeks. Working alone was all I knew, and when the status quo was disrupted, my body shut down. Who knew playing well with others was such a taxing mental and physical experience? The point is, I eventually adjusted. Just a few growing pains in the process of shifting my pronouns. It’s all part of the broader experience of what it means to belong.