Mmmhmm, I'm joining the newsletter writers.
This one took a while. More than a year kind of while. Like many who have different platforms (I imagine; though I sense there are people out there who have a stronger sense of self and contribution than I do - I envy those who just pick up a camera and know the world needs to hear what they have to say. Every time I’ve watched a hair dye video this year with someone just randomly talking in their car to the camera, I am honest to god impressed and awed. WHAT IS THAT LIKE? And, can they teach me thy ways please!!), it took me time and coaching to get comfortable with the idea that what I might share is worth sharing and that not doing so could even be selfish. It’s an interesting thing to be working on moving away from habit and ego and doing something that, at least from one view, is pretty egocentric.
Obvi, I got clear of that story (mostly lol). As I work to remember what it’s like to be fundamentally human; to be committed to our collective healing and wholeness; and to heal myself, I continue to come up against several things at once, which got me clear that I needed to do this.
First, is that the depth of our interconnection might not rival the mycorrhizal networks of the planet, but it’s damn near close, I think. Our stories, pain, joy, grief, language, and even thoughts arise in community with one another. We’ve had a front row seat to the depth of our interconnection in the COVID - 19 pandemic, seeing so clearly not just how easily we can share viruses with one another, but also how our behaviors impact others (whether we care or not), and how webbed our global institutions and economies really are. We’ve seen the depravity of our choice for a monocultural, racial capitalist system as too many across the globe are left poorer, left to die, and left to struggle alone. Too often, this system encourages us to look away instead of to turn toward, inquire, and get in action together. After all, how many of us have the capacity to know, care, or do anything about the current roiling COVID outbreak in Brazil? The Indian Farmers’ protest that has been months-long and has no end in sight? The protests in Myanmar? The (lack of) inclusion of Palistinians living in Gaza and the West Bank in Israel’s well-hailed vaccination rates? To say nothing of the vast challenges in the United States as a result of historical land theft, genocide, enslavement, and systemic racism, including this week’s horrific murders of mostly Asian women in Atlanta. Each of us individually, let alone collectively, is impacted by the result of what’s happening to everyone else on this planet. I’m sure I’ll talk in a future post about how this is both overwhelming and hopeful, and how I’m learning to accept the lessons of both.
We are harmed in community. We heal in community, too. Our experience in and of our hurt might be unique, but our healing is deeply relational and there are lessons in all of our stories that transcend our individuality. I keep learning this and it stays reminding me that those of us who are determined to live in such a way that we don’t keep recreating the same systems of suffering have an innate responsibility to share our stories with others. My experiences might not be what everyone needs, but they might be what someone needs. Living in the truth of that is uncomfortable. The stories in my head that tell me I’m not enough, that I’m selfish and self-centered, that I’m occupying too much space by occupying any at all are LOUD. But if I accept our interconnection - and I do - it asks me to lead differently. This newsletter is a way I might do that.
Second is the real need to honor and respect the expertise of healing occupations while also honoring the reality that leaving healing to therapists and social workers alone is both deeply ahistorical and not a winning strategy from a scale perspective. To be clear: I am not suggesting we don’t need those professions (I have spent a lifetime in therapy), nor that those in those professions are bad (they’re AMAZING), nor that the frameworks they provide aren’t helpful (my goodness they are SO HELPFUL). I’m saying that we humans have been in the business of healing each other for millenia, the professional accreditation of therapists and social workers arose alongside industrialization and global capitalism and much of the knowledge taught in these fields is credited to a bunch of WEIRD (western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democractic) white men who have used the tools of science to codify the wisdom in traditions, rituals, and practices that have existed in all cultures across time (and often most readily found in modern times in indigenous communities and other communities of color). We have to embrace both the intelligence, methods, and training of those in these fields while also recognizing our power to heal in community with each other. By sharing stories. By being heard. By moving together. By laughing together. By the deep power of empathy in saying “oh wow, me too.”
Which brings me to the last thing I keep coming up against in my own experience: we are interconnected well beyond what we imagine, we have the knowledge of how to heal each other in community in our DNA, and yet, we live in a diseased culture that all but ensures we don’t really know how to be in authentic, accountable, life-changing relationships. In my view, this is central to why we haven’t yet made the social progress we’d like. It’s why I started coaching teams and individuals. We can’t yet believe in a society free of prisons and police; free of private ownership; free of designed surplus suffering; free of weapons and war; and more because, in large part, we don’t have the daily lived experience of being held in joyful, loving, accountable relationships where we fuck up big and are still loved; where our purpose - not our paycheck’s ability to pay our bills or buy us more things - is the central point of inquiry to the shape of our life’s choices; where taking responsibility for our choices and their impact is as natural and strengthening to us as breathing. Like you, I’m learning how to do this. It’s been agonizing. It’s been the greatest gift of my life thus far. I hope to share stories that hold both the agony and the gifts of doing it nonetheless here.
I’m not (overly) naive: this is a newsletter. I hope you like it! I hope it helps more of us in the world live into a story of interconnection instead of adding to a false story of separation that’s surrounded us for at least 500 years. I hope you laugh with (and maybe even at!) me, that you can find that beautiful experience of “oh wow, me too” here, and I get the very loving, kind, and healing tonic of seeing “ah, I’m not alone”. I don’t know this newsletter will change the world, but I don’t know it won’t, either. I know it will change at least mine, and that it’s worth doing if it helps you change yours. Let’s do this.