You are enough, you have everything it takes to survive in this world, including all of your issues. We are awesome like that. But, when it feels like more than we can handle, when it feels daunting and scary, sad and lonely, we forget about our own resources, our own awesomeness, and when that happens, our world begins to shrink. It is at this time, in particular, than a friend’s ear, soft shoulder, or hand in ours, can be the most comforting, most rewarding, experience that we recall for years to come.
The ear hears many sounds and, I think, feels many vibrations beyond those we can rationalize as sound, which is why I believe deeply in listening to what people say. Just like our ears, I know our eyes take in much more than our brains can visualize into an image. There is so much to take in, however, that we can become masters at deflection, avoidance, and short-sightedness in order to calm our own living world.
When we meet, what do you say? “Hi” usually followed by “How are ya?” That’s how it is in my social circle and culture, and it is so common, that we hardly wait for an answer, or our answer is so routine that we unconsciously answer “Fine” with a fake smile before we have even had time to process that question. We mask it up so well, and depending on the social circumstance, it may not be deemed appropriate to divulge what we are actually feeling or thinking. For most of us, this can get close to 100% of the time.
And so we push it deeper inside our brains, which pushes that thought into our body, and chemicals are created that create a feeling, sometimes in the pit of our stomachs, or our diaphragm, or our heads. It eludes us until it demands our attention, and sometimes we just don’t know why.
This is why it is so monumentally powerful when a person actually hears your answer to “Hi, how are you?”. If you say “Busy, it’s been a busy week” and they get curious by asking “Oh? How so?” That can almost catch you off guard! We aren’t used to people listening to us. We aren’t used to providing real answers to social or polite questions. What does this say about our society?
What does this day about what we get used to? We are all walking around with plenty of armour on, which protects us from getting close to everyone we come in to contact with. To a degree, this is a necessity, but we have to remember we are wearing it! I often don’t take my armour off, and I offer less to those around me because of it.
In this evening’s class to be a volunteer counsellor, the topic of suicide was raised. I thought how much we interact with others, and how many people hardly ever, if at all, are heard, are listened to, are seen, or even acknowledged in our society. And I’m not just talking about the disenfranchised cultures and minorities, but regular people like our neighbours, that guy you sit across to at work, your spouse, your son or daughter. Do we spend enough time to ask them, with genuine curiosity, “How are you doing today?” or “How are you feeling?” We live so much of our lives in our head, on the computer, on our phones, texting, that our world is like a surreal matrix, void of touch. I mean touch as in physical, emotional, and spiritual.
It’s easy to slip unnoticed by so many people, and it is specially relevant right now, as we head into yet another frenzy of holiday experience. It can be seen from those that have no family, like they don’t belong. Where do we get the kind of connection we need as a person if not from our family? If we don’t cultivate friendships?
One of the best aspects of my previous job was fielding complaints from the public. I never took their complaint personally, which helped me acknowledge their view, and often I felt what they were feeling, and I was able to see their point of view, and after that was accomplished, I’ll tell you, it didn’t really matter if any action came from the phone call. I could already feel a palpable release of tension in their voice. That says something. If we could simply be the sounding board for one other human being, we may never know the difference it makes, but isn’t that beautiful?
We could actually save a person’s life simply by listening, interacting, really ‘seeing’ someone for the first time.Listening, seeing, acknowledging, witnessing, empathizing, sharing, times, stories, events, anything…is enough.
Share the essence of you with the essence of another and you will be rewarded.
If they ever speak to you about a darkness, about leaving this world, about checking our or suicide, please refer them to a counselling service, a friend, and stay with them. Listen to them and offer the best medicine of all: your genuine time with them. We can not make anyone live, nor can we make anyone die, but we can explore reasons for living, connections to this world, and maybe, give someone hope where they simply forgot it.
Remind the world why we are human: we crave connection. So connect with someone today. It may not be your life you save, but I bet both will change with every new connection.
These acts of genuine kindness and compassion are indelible in those that received them from another. That shows their power, their gift of connecting people to the very core of their existence. That is enough. You are more than enough to share with any other human being.
Share the gift of time this holiday season and you will have shared what no billionaire can possibly buy, nor what any heart could genuinely deny.