The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
"Would you like to sit down?"
I’ve come to find that words I once found innocuous or routine have much more power when you speak them with intent. I have found myself putting a lot more intent behind my words over the past days. Words like “hello” and “how are you” seem to feel more meaningful. My smile more engaging. I really want to say hello. To acknowledge you in the world. I really want to know how you are doing. How is your journey going? What hurts you? What helps you? What do you love? Who do you love? When you feel the wind on your face, does it strike a memory? When you are staring off into the distance and lost to the constructs of your own internal mystery, how does it feel? I want to hold space for someone to feel heard and cared about. There is nothing more important in this world than us and our connection to each other.
That’s how I met Sharon. I was holding down a table at a coffee shop in Seattle working on wrapping up the tail end of my #WorkFromMotorcycle day. Sharon had been there for a while running on battery at her own table. This particular coffee shop only had a few, coveted power outlets and I was monopolizing one. As she moved around the coffee shop searching for an oasis of alternating current I offered her a spot at my table. In addition to the power outlet, Sharon also got to listen my side of a one-on-one meeting with a member of my team at work. After the call wrapped up I apologized if I was too loud or disruptive. She graciously said no and inquired about what I do. It is an elevator pitch I’ve given dozens of times since being on the road. We talked a while about my work and this amazing opportunity I’ve been given to #WorkFromMotorcycle. At length I asked Sharon what she was working on.
“Do you really want to know?” she asked.
A thousand times, yes. Yes to the moon and back. Yes, and yes again. Yes times infinity. Plus one. That’s why I’m here, now, in this moment. To listen to you talk about your marvelous work.
Sharon is doing something meaningful and beautiful in the world. The AIM Project is one of those transformational movements that I perceive as connecting us to something much needed in our world today: an understanding of who we really are in the world. What we can dream and what we can truly be. With rapt attention I listened to Sharon describe her journey in life, this work that has transformed her and the children she has worked with. I will not do her work justice so I encourage you to read about it, listen to it, and support it (https://www.gofundme.com/HelpKidsBeFree). As she spoke she touched on subjects I’ve long wrestled with. Doubts. Fears. Unexpressed joy. Angry. Hurt. Sorrow. Hope. Peace. I believe each person we meet is a part of our journey for a reason. Sometimes, a reason that is easily discernible. Sometimes, one that requires thought and introspection. I met Sharon because I needed to. She had wonderful things to say; wonderful challenges to give; wonderful tools to carry with me. I count myself lucky for the experience and I marvel at how we crossed each other’s paths at the exact right time for me to truly hear her.
One too brief and infinite moment at a coffee shop named Storyville. How apropos.
A book that Sharon recommended, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, has found a spot in my backpack along with a few others. She didn’t so much recommend the book as inspire me to purchase it with this quote:
Without our familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves, a person we do not know, an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the time but we never really wanted to meet. Isn't that why we have tried to fill every moment of time with noise and activity, however boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence with this stranger on our own?
An interesting concept for someone who feels a very strong sense of self. It is true, though. True that my days are largely comprised of noise and activity. Most of it work. Some of it friends and family. Some of it games, movies, shows. This isn’t inherently wrong. I don’t feel bad about the noise in my life. About the activities that connect me to loved ones and provide fuel for my imagination. However I don’t take purposeful time to be alone with myself. To deeply question or to just be. I think this journey is changing that course in my life. I can’t imagine coming back home and taking up the mantle of distraction without the capability to set it down from time to time and listen to what is inside. To be purposeful in my life in new ways. To give myself the respect I wish to give others. Time and attention. A meaningful connection and an honest desire to just listen. People want to be heard. To be acknowledged for who they are in the world.
"Would you like to sit down?"