[This post is part of my Truth-Tuesday series on Facebook.]
The year after my mom died, I inhabited a raw, tender, vivid state of grief. I looked around at people’s interactions—in coffee shops, classes, activities, and workplaces. And I noticed two things: (1) When someone cries in public (perhaps with one other person present), they typically apologize right away; (2) When someone observes another crying, they want to fix the situation, often saying, “It’s going to be okay. Everything’s going to be okay.”
My observations: (1) I wish it was culturally—and internally—practiced and accepted to be real, vulnerable, and as-is (being human means we feel; we cry); (2) I wish we had more experience bearing witness—listening—and not trying to fix a problem. Who knows if “everything will be okay”? We want that for people, but we can’t make it happen, and when we “fix” rather than listen, we minimize someone’s pain.
I’m trying to create more safe, brave spaces where people can be real, as well as spaces where people can bear witness. I believe we all have the capacity to listen; to be vulnerable; to be inwardly and outwardly kind. Yet we have little chance to practice these important parts of being both human and part of community.
What’s alive inside you right now? What soft, vulnerable places need your attention? And how can you express this in some safe, brave way?
What’s alive inside your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers? How can you listen to their tender, real places? Not fixing, changing, or controlling, just listening.
If we make just one small step in either of these directions, we create a more genuine, caring, and open world.
One small step.