“Would you like this bag of chips?!” I exclaim, looking at a young man through my open car window as I’m waiting at a stoplight.
He is standing on the sidewalk, holding a tattered piece of cardboard with something scribbled on it.
Excitedly, I turn to grab an unopened bag of salted, blue corn tortilla chips I never opened for my long road trip.
I drove down from a small town burrowed in the tranquil woods of the North Coast to the cauldron of speed and electricity that is Los Angeles.
He walks up to my window and accepts my offer, looking at the chips, asking me what they are and how they’re made.
He is swaying back and forth, a cold anxiety shaking him. Maybe he’s exhausted from standing and pacing for hours along the freeway exit. I can tell he is lost in a desert, parched, and needing help.
I don’t know the events that led up to his situation, but I can only do what I can do, and I’m okay with that. I don’t dive into the pool of guilt for not being able to do more, but I do feel something inside reaching out to offer a sense of connection, even if it is as small as a bag of chips and a brief conversation. This is my offering.
We have one more minute together before the light turns green and I continue on my way.
My heart breaks, folding in on itself because when I enter this environment, I’m hit with waves of sadness and despair. This grand environment is tangled with millions of people, from gorgeously designed oceanfront mansions that sit to old-time neighborhoods that haven’t changed one bit, to an intensified amount of camping tents pitched under highway bridges. I am exposed to aspects of heaven and hell in a matter of minutes.
I want to get out of the city so bad, but this running away is a piece of my own fear of facing the reality of how others are attempting to survive and the lack of support they may have. This reminds me of my internal struggle of wanting to run away from facing my own problems, which provokes a pain that feels unbearable at times.
Every person has a story filled with beauty and destruction. It is not something that anyone can escape from, but if we can learn to acknowledge and make contact with all sides of our own nature, by feeling into our emotional responses and investigating our behaviors, we can find a little more understanding about ourselves. Tuning into our body sensations and becoming acquainted to listening to our gut feelings is an open invitation of information.
“Why is it that the gut is so much stronger than the intellect? Because the gut is connected to the brain, in fact, the gut sends many more connections to the brain than vice versa. When the gut receives messages from the brain, it reads them and it magnifies them and sends them back up to the brain. So the gut feelings tell you the whole picture, your thoughts only tell you a small part of the picture.” ~ Gabor Maté
There is an opportunity to meet self-awareness with a supple care. Learning about our own inner dynamics through our life experiences can give us an honest outlook on how we operate.
Listening to our inner voice that is expressed as our intuition offers a unique gift nestled inside of our bodies. We can grow more accustomed to this sensation of being in the moment by learning to listen to our feelings alongside using the knowledge of our experiences to find a balance. With those everyday interactions we have with ourselves and others, we get to choose how we show up. As we get to know ourselves, we can develop our sense of what we are capable of giving in regards to reaching into ourselves or reaching out to another.
And with that, we all contain different needs and wants. Experiencing the world of the body is our bridge to experiencing life. Acknowledging the power of our body’s intelligence and making connection with our nature takes personal responsibility.
Leaning into the deeply uncomfortable spaces within relationship to self, others, and the world requires our attention and courage. It isn’t easy; it doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes, nor does it mean things will change at a drop of a hat. When we choose to discover a new or different way of engaging with ourselves and each other, it develops and refines our ability to genuinely communicate and be seen.
Connecting with people like the stranger in L.A. offered me a thread to feel and contemplate my humanness, even if it was as simple as a spontaneous invitation to grub on a bag of chips. A seemingly small moment like this reminds me of the power of our inherent goodness.
In the busiest and loudest terrains of our inner and outer reality, seek the deeper voice of soul. Slow down and recognize this moment that contains your presence.
We must use the senses that are embedded in our bodies and the lessons of our experiences to observe and touch upon what makes us human.
Search for the crack in the concrete of “not enough,” where blades of grass continuously seek to catch our eye, catch a breath, and connect us with the ordinary, yet sacred relationship to our basic goodness.