Others teach us inclusive love and acceptance

I ran into a beautiful person I know. This person reminded me so much of the way we choose our life, the gift we give to people and the opportunity we have by living. I met this person at an event and had not seen this person for at least two years. I knew that this person had health issues-that this person since a child had been battling with a disease that could take life at any time. Yet this person was living proof that even as one approaches their 7th decade they can and will persevere despite all odds and obstacles.
This person’s smile beamed at me. This person’s heart opened up to me. This person showed me again that love prevails. I am not talking about love in a romantic sense. I am talking about love in a ‘we share in a journey’ sense. This person always reminded me of that.  For when I did get a chance to see this person when this person was not house bound and limited to travel. The occasional catch up over coffee would only lift us each up to another level to remind us both why we are here. We would collaborate in our joy. We would collaborate in our sharing of gifts and reinspire each other to go and do the work that we came here to do.
Yet you and I don’t see those kind of people for who they are because we pass by that kind of person on the street. We see the person stumbling, we see the person who can not see as well as you and I do, we see the person a bit weathered with age. Or whatever it is we turn away from that stranger for fear that we might have to know their story and their burden. I am truly blessed to know this person’s burden because what I see is how the burden does not stop this person from giving, caring and being.
And I can not tell you how happy I am to see this person still walking even though it is painful, to see this person and know that this person can enjoy grandchildren in this stage of life, to know that this person makes a contribution in this world in a way that this person can now. There is something special in that.
And it is about now. It is about every moment. It is about being in this community in this world. I am amazed given the bodily sentence this person has to a chair at home that this person made the effort to make it to an event that we were at. The speaking certainly did motivate both of us, did inspire both of us about the willingness we all need to have to be inclusive and not exclusive, the willingness we all need to have not be choosing and discriminating and coming up with ways that say your in and your out because we are all on this journey together.
I could be speaking this to you in person. I could be crankily yelling this in person. Instead I simply offer these words.  How are you connecting to others irrespective of the pain they remind you of, of the joy that they remind you that you forget, of the simple existence that they show you is possible.
Stop now and consider the people you know, consider the people in your network. Consider the people even in your close connections and wonder ‘how do they do it?’ and then ask yourself ‘How do you do it?’.   And if you are not quite happy with the answer then maybe it is a chance to say well I am going to do it differently now and I am going to start now.


(Note:  I wrote this from a voice memo I recorded in the shower. Yes it is proof that writers get inspiring thoughts when not trying to write. Yes this is the unedited recorded version with shower in the background.)

Jenn Shallvey