One hour to flight time. With my bag in sight, I walked-sauntered slowly around Gate D-7 at the Phoenix airport. Tears welled up in my eyes before dripping down my cheeks as I surveyed my surroundings, and I was overcome by the beauty and simplicity of the multiplicity. In this moment, it was showing up as dozens of utterly human people of every stripe moving about their business. Businessmen businessing, mothers mothering, children playing-fighting-exploring-wandering-crying-laughing-clinging-running as I looked on. I stood rapt in awe at the sacred sweetness-bitterness-exquisiteness of human living.
A young man in a wheelchair with a debilitating disease sat to my right. Lovers tenderly nuzzling nearby. A group of airline personnel having a lively, engaged conversation.
I watched. Tears dripped. Heart overflowing. It was a moment of deep union born of love.
This week has been an exploration of noticing where I contract from intimacy in my life. Noticing where I pull away because I’m afraid. Where do I move away from love? Sometimes these movements are very subtle.
For example, my friend Aaron said to me that he felt it wasn’t okay to appreciate me – that his appreciation would bounce off, rather than be received. As he spoke the words, I felt the truth in it, and felt the place where “deep inside” it was not okay to let appreciation land. (And what is appreciation, except another word for love?) Since then, for the past couple of days, I’ve been able to hear appreciation (of every kind) from people, and consciously welcome it in, feeling it fill me. When I first did this, it felt as if a crack opened in my heart, and more love began pouring forth. (Isn’t it interesting how my receiving kindness/love/appreciation enabled me to love people/life more powerfully!)
This kind of intimacy is a moment to moment choice. This intimacy is saying yes to life and love, in all its splendor, no matter what that looks like.
In a conversation with my mother, I caught myself responding automatically, unconsciously, in a way that discounted her experience, and rushed through the topic, away from a place of my actually feeling her pain. In the moment of realizing this, I was once again conscious, and able to nudge myself closer to her truth, open to her reality.
To step toward pain, to actually stand in it, and feel it is a practice of loving people.
While hanging out with my friend Michael, I found myself seeking reassurance, seeking to be liked and safe. I didn’t realize this until we stopped moving and doing, and made time for conversation. I shared with him that I was feeling uncertain, and he shared what his experience was. As I listened, I saw where my behavior was a pattern I’d put in place for safety as a small child, maybe as a four year old. Our unique constellation in that moment enabled us both to see a place where we unconsciously moved away from intimacy, from honest connection with ourselves and with another.
These conversations showed me where I was framing the other person as an object, a thing in my life, rather than as a subject, a person with their own reality, a beloved Thou.
I notice that the more the veils in front of my eyes drop away, the more I see the preciousness of life. This preciousness is so exquisitely tender and powerful that it’s a bit scary. It’s so full that it can be overwhelming, asking me to relax into an even deeper yes, let my heart break open ever more, and welcome yet more intimacy with life.