Happy Monday! How was your weekend? It was a good one over here with Mother’s Day and all – Wita kept screaming “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!” to me in public spaces all day. (I appreciate her holiday fervor, even though my birthday is in November.) It was a gorgeous day, and my husband even managed to snap this Mother’s Day photo. All three of us looking in the direction of the camera and smiling? Now, that’s a miracle.
On Saturday, I did a little reading, and happened upon the most eye-opening passage in Broken Open. I thought about how I would draw from it in a blog post, but quickly realized it was too perfect to paraphrase. Have a look.
“One of the greatest enigmas of human behavior is the way we isolate ourselves from each other. In our misguided perception of separation, we assume that others are not sharing a similar experience of life. We imagine that we are unique in our eccentricities or failures or longings. And so we try to appear as happy and consistent as we think others are, and we feel shame when we stumble and fall. When difficulties come our way, we don’t readily seek out help and compassion because we think others might not understand, or would judge us harshly or take advantage of our weakness. And so we hide out, and we miss out.
Just like you, I can be a jerk sometimes. I do unkind, cowardly things, harbor unmerciful thoughts, and mope around when I should be doing something constructive. Just like you, I wonder if life has meaning; I worry and fret over things I can’t control; and I often feel overcome with a longing for something that I cannot even name. For all of my strengths and gifts, I am also a vulnerable and insecure person, in need of connection and reassurance. This is the secret I try to keep from you, and you from me, and in doing so we do each other a grave disservice. Rumi tells us that moment we accept what troubles we’ve been given, the door will open. Sounds easy, sounds attractive, but it is difficult, and most of us pound on the door to freedom and happiness with every manipulative ploy save the one that actually works. If you’re interested in opening the door to the heavens, start with the door to your own secret self. See what happens when you offer to another a glimpse of who you really are. Start slowly. Without getting dramatic, share the simple dignity of yourself in each moment—your triumphs and your failures, your satisfaction and your sorrow. Face your embarrassment at being human, and you’ll uncover a deep well of passion and compassion. It’s a great power, your Open Secret. When your heart is undefended, you make it safe for whomever you meet to put down his burden of hiding, and then you both can walk through the open door.” – Elizabeth Lesser
I can confidently say that opening up about my struggles in this space has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I feel a deeper connection to so many of you, and honestly, I feel more connected to this blog than I have for years. It’s simple, really. When it comes down to it, we all have different circumstances, but the resulting core feelings from our circumstances are shared by all of us. We’ve all felt fear and hopelessness and longing at some point. It’s what makes us human. It is our core connection.
If you sometimes feel devoid of real, true connections, would it be so scary to let your guard down a little bit in your day-to-day interactions? Just a little bit – I’m not saying you need to break down in hysterics to a coworker over an unfulfilled longing or anything (WHHYYYYYYYY GOD WHHYYYYYYY), but like Elizabeth said, just share the simple dignity of yourself in the moment. It would be an interesting little experiment…take off your “everything’s perfectly fine!” mask for a bit and open your heart to someone. I suspect you’ll find others are feeling the same way, and watch what happens. Maybe you can try it this week, and if face-to-face seems too daunting at first, you can start here. You know I’ll be rooting you on.