Being human is a beautiful, simple and simultaneously complex experience. In so many ways, we are wired to protect ourselves, our families, our tribe. It is the instinct of survival that has allowed us to be here today. This instinct enables us to gauge whether things appear to be safe or unsafe, whether people around us appear to be similar or different. As necessary as it is, this kind of hyper-sensitivity can be depleting and the source of unnecessary separation.
As much as we are wired for survival, we are deeply wired for connection. Consider a few simple inquiries and see for yourself. Have you ever seen someone in pain and experienced their pain? Was this something you had to think through or was it something innate and immediate? When you hear of suffering in the world around you, does something in you ache for the world’s suffering? Have you seen someone in a moment of pure joy and felt their joy radiating in your body? Perhaps, at least one of these inquiries comes with a resounding Yes!
Yes, we are deeply wired for connection. We desire to love and to be loved. We desire to see and to be seen. These things are at the core of our being. This tenderness of being is also what we so quickly rush to protect and guard when we feel threatened.
It is interesting to see how we pendulate between these different states in life. In my day, there are moments where I feel wholly connected as I lay gentle kisses on my daughter’s forehead while she is fast asleep. There are equally moments when I am rushing, agenda’s are in full swing and I can be inclined to separate from anyone who gets in the way. In the rush, my stories can become captivating and confining. In the rush, I cannot truly see others fully. How could others then fully see me?
Marriage is an example of this for me. Often when I feel guarded or defensive with Herb, it is rooted in the feeling that I have not been seen. Repeatedly, though, I realize that my not feeling seen rarely happens in complete isolation. There is some part of both of us that feels this mutually. This disconnect cannot be healed only on the surface with words. To feel acknowledged, we have to feel this in our bodies and to do so we have to slow down and give it time. We have to be willing to set aside our agendas and our stories temporarily, so that we can be available to one another.
This said, there are no absolute right or wrong’s. Most mornings, when it is about five minutes before we need to leave for school, I am on a schedule. Some days can be more flexible, but other days I have commitments. On those days, I don’t have the time to fully hear how my daughter did or didn’t love breakfast or that she wants to play a game of cards before school. As sweet as the moment might be, we cannot stop everything and become available at all times. We can, though, skillfully choose when to be fully available for someone and when we cannot.
Life is a dance. It is a dance between the rush and the pause, the agendas and the surrender, the moments of connection and those of separation. And sometimes we are leading the dance, other times we simply surrender to the dance that already is.