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As we are about to turn the corner on another year, I’m feeling reminded of the pause at the top of the inhale.
The feeling of holding it all and being with all of what makes us who we are—before exhaling into 2022. What also comes to mind is a quote Mother Teresa is known for saying:
“We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
I feel seen through these words, and I know with them I can get through anything.
Like some of us, I came into the world without a foundation—no pillars of love to call my own. And as we walk through life, pillars and a foundation have been slowly built. A total reconstruction from the inside to out, with pillars that are strong. Perhaps you might be able to relate?
But still, like a lot of us, walking alone is a feeling that doesn’t seem to go away. Even with good people to rely on, a beloved partner, maybe even children, pets, and good hearted people around, a lot of us are walking alone. When this happens, we are together “alone.” And sometimes this feeling of aloneness sneaks in even if we came into the world with parents or caregivers who were fully equipped for the job.
Perhaps you are someone who came from a similar, non foundational, out of control background? If you are, I see you, and I walk with you. But if somehow this wasn’t the case and you are feeling like you are on shaky ground, especially now as we turn the corner on another year, I see you too. So now you are not alone. You also have a voice, as we have a voice, and we walk together.
This is us; this is our shared humanity. This is love. This is the kind of person you value having as your friend, because this person “gets” you, understands your sadness, and feels your aloneness with you. And never out of pity. They know what defeated looks like and they hold you, without trying to fix you. After all, we are enough, we just seem to forget sometimes.
In sharing our stories or a vulnerable moment, we know it can only strengthen our connection. And when they know all of these stories about us, they help to accept us as we are. No one holds it against us; they only love us more. And when they practice this on themselves they can only be this way to themselves and others. “Heal ourselves, heal the world,” comes to mind.
So, those of us who walk alone or feel as if we do sometimes, in the end are not alone. We are together—and when our eyes lock on to each other we only see ourselves and our shared face of healing and humanity.
We actually need one another in these days that we are living. Not in a codependent way, but in an interdependent way. In a codependent way we need to be needed by our other. But with interdependence we can still hold our dependence and independence together deeply. We have agency and autonomy with our dependence while at the same time can recognize our dependence to all things and beings. An example of our interdependence is our food supply chain and how many hands are involved to bring us something we can eat at our table.
So perhaps not unlike our food that is delivered by many hands, we are also held together by the web of folks that we have relationships with. When we continue to cultivate and give attention to ourselves and another inside these relationships, we often feel seen and heard. In today’s world of so much upheaval and chaos, one of the best ways we can bring a sense of peace into it is by letting go of some of our isolating independence.
The Buddhist tradition understands the importance of holding both independence and dependence of agency—bringing in both to our lives is a really beautiful way to live.
I think we need our friends and loved ones as we go through life—especially now. Sometimes when trust has been broken, it is hard to open to another. One way that helped me was becoming my own best parent, healer, and guide. Being my own best friend and treating myself like one began to change my perspective. The lens that I looked out to the world became more trusting, friendly, and kind.
A few years back, I came to a place where I had to stop treating myself as second fiddle and choose self-love. It was time to stop looking for new parents and to be the mother of the tender little girl inside, holding her, helping her develop into the woman she was always meant to be.
Sitting tenderly with our trauma, drama, and especially our broken parts is a worthy and grounded practice that feels to be one of the most courageous things a person can do.
Perhaps this time in our lives is not as much about merging with wisdom, but being with a more ordinary path. Just being ourselves, through and through, with love and understanding is more than enough.