Have you ever worked on something so relentlessly that when it was over you were physically, mentally and emotionally spent?
It’s happened before (yup, recovering workaholic), and it happened again this summer, but with an unexpected twist.
The summer of 2016 was about two projects for me; a pilgrimage tour on the Camino de Santiago in the north of Spain, and a Virtual Pilgrimage which happened online and all over the world. They ignited my passion for nature, self-knowledge and connection. When I left in June everything was set to deliver a powerful experience.
I was on fire and on a mission!
…and then I hit a wall.
I started a video series to encourage friends to participate in the Virtual Pilgrimage, and to generally entertain folks. I imagined them as clever, tongue-in-cheek short clips demonstrating why one would be grateful to be a virtual experiencer of pilgrimage, avoiding suffering and hardships found along the Way. I’d call out things like daily laundry, weird food, blisters, sock tans, and group housing.
It was silly fun, and then in that levity, something else happened.
While reading comments, giggling, and re-watching myself talk about how hard it is to wash your clothes in a bathtub, a heavy chunk of reality hit me in my vegetarian-hug-it-out-yoga-teacher head.
One of my friend’s comments read: “Nice bathtub!” She was saying this because it was a nice tub, and to let me know she was keeping up with me thousands of miles and an ocean away. It was meant as a kindness.
At that moment, I read it in a very different way.
Remember this is the summer of 2016, refugees streaming across seas and borders, black men being killed with live video streaming on social media as proof, police being shot in retaliation, inflammatory language spoken by people who might someday represent our country? This was the background for what came next.
I stopped the video playback.
You know those moments when we get a glimpse of something bigger, and it doesn’t feel so awesome?
So many people in our world would feel the luckiest person alive to have a bathtub, a room, food, to be in touch with friends back home, to feel safe, and accepted where they live… forget the luxury of walking from town to town everyday in a foreign country by choice.
I don’t want to have a pity party or be all self-deprecating here. Nor for you to feel sorry for me feeling sorry… Ugh, aren’t we all sick of that?
I did have a realization which has switched up the way I’m moving in the world and given me added buy-in.
I think sometimes we numb ourselves to the discomfort, so we don’t have to deal with what is going on around us.
I knew all of this was going on before, but that experience pushed me toward action, and the feeling resonates still.
Though the pilgrimages were successful with adventures had, new friendships blossoming, and people feeling more connected to who they really are, in relationship to this new feeling…
It rang a little hollow.
My heart had been cracked open by pilgrimage, but not in the way I expected.
In the embers of that cracked open heart, a new fire was kindled.
Big and persistent questions followed.
“How can I contribute my voice to the conversation of compassion and equality? How can I be part of making this world a safer and better place to live? How can I be part of the solution?”
Lots of us feel like that these days, right?
So, I disappeared for a while, into those questions, the discomfort, and ultimately the possibility. I had huge ideas and simple ones. I worked with refugees. I read. I tested out some ideas. I watched. I talked with people who have had these goals for a while. And, I listened.
Though I haven’t gotten it all figured out, I’m learning more about what I feel like we can do.
I’ve gotten better at being uncomfortable.
I’ve taken stock and refined the trajectory.
I see compassionate, real and revealing experiences meeting the hate we see filling screens of all sizes, on billboards, in magazines, and newspapers. These interactions are already happening in efforts like Humans Of New York, the OnBeing “Where does it hurt?” initiative, the Free Hugs Project, the Greater Good Science Center, and The Good Life Project.
I’m ready to add my voice to Connection from this place of discomfort and steady commitment.
I look forward to doing this together.
So, though the summer experience was different than I had planned, I got the experience I really needed.
If you too long to feel connected in your relationships, families and environment, to be part of breaking feelings of separation in your home and around the world, please join us.
I’ve been trying out some ideas for building connection right where we live. I now see how what we do at home and in our neighborhoods can create powerful ripples that impact our world.
Comment below and tell us what you think we can do to feel connected, share ideas, your struggles, your hopes, your fears. I really want to know!
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Let’s jump that wall I hit this summer.
There’s so much more good to come.