Saturday, July 30, 2011

All in this together

Life has taught me the wisdom of moving toward what scares me. Although it is embarrassing and painful, it is very healing to stop hiding from yourself. It is healing to know all the ways you are sneaky, all the ways that you hide out, all the ways that you shut down, deny, close off, criticize people, all your weird little ways. You can know all of that with some sense of humor and kindness, By knowing yourself, you're coming to know humanness altogether. We are all up against these things. We are all in this together.
                                                                    ~ Pema Chodron

In 2005, I traveled to China, the farthest I'd ever gone. My daughter was teaching in Beijing for a year and it afforded me the opportunity to experience a culture very different from my own. One of the strongest memories I have is a felt-sense of humanity, large masses of people moving like ants, knowing which way to turn, where to find food, shelter and companionship.  

Our visit to the Great Wall was filled with adventure, excitement and fear. Lillie, a student and friend of my daughter's was our guide. She found the right buses, all four of them, leading us through the city and countryside until we reached our destination. For better or worse, it was a holiday in China and many people joined us on our excursion.  Lillie said it wasn't always this crowded as we squeezed our way up the 1000-year old stairs. It was a beautiful day and the air was clear, filling our lungs with much needed oxygen as we made our way along the wall. Coming down the steep staircase, I marveled at the young women who chose to wear stiletto heels, as I carefully placed one foot after the other, my sturdy walking shoes grounding me with each step. 

It was a long day, filled with such intimacy. The vastness of the geography of the place and the sense of oneness with the earth was really amazing. Along with the thousands of people, whom I would never know; I felt a kind of intimacy with them. Through our shared experience we discovered "all the weird little ways" of the each other and ourselves.

Humor and kindness are essential tools for travelling. We are all in this together. 

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