Tag Archives: love

Seeing the Multitudes in Others

Recently I have been bringing more awareness to how I and those around me describe and categorize others.  It has been interesting, and sometimes concerning, to see how an adjective can suddenly become a defining component of someone’s entire identity when assigned to them by another.  Certainly it is not news to anyone that our society has an affinity for labels, boxes, and color codes.  Our collective tendency for discrimination and prejudice based on these affinities has and continues to create problems and cause harm.  And as many of us seek to become less judgmental and exclusive and instead become more empathetic and inclusive, we must become more mindful about how we think and speak about others; even and especially those that stand on the opposite of us on various issues and beliefs.  For the truth is that one or two adjectives cannot accurately describe anyone, for everyone contain multitudes.

“She is just basic.”
“He is a problematic man.”
“She is just crazy liberal.”
“He is an ignorant republican.”

These are just a few examples of statements I have recently heard those around me speak about others.  And I confess, I am guilty of thinking and speaking about others in much the same way.  As I reflect on these descriptive, categorical statements, what strikes me about them is not necessarily the use of any one of the words, but rather the finality and permanence with which they were spoken.  As if “basic” or “problematic” accurately sums up the entirety of those people’s beings.  Of course, we know on some level that these people must be more complex than just being basic or problematic, right?  True – she might be “basic” in that she is an average woman who enjoys popular things, but she is also probably a loving daughter/sister/mother/etc., she probably has worthy talents, and she probably cares deeply about something important in the world.  Sure – he might be a man who says and/or does “problematic” things, but he also probably is a loving son/brother/father/etc., he probably has respectable skills, and he probably has and does try to do some good in the world. 

While it may be accurate to describe her as basic and him as problematic in some respects, is it not unjust to reduce them as people to being only such?  Is it not wrong to deny their other admirable qualities?  Is it not cruel to not give them the opportunity to be more?  These are the considerations that I have been meditating on as I catch myself labeling and categorizing others.  These considerations may or may not change the verbiage of the statements, but will change how they are spoken.  I may still think or say “She is basic,” but the way in which I say it does not cancel out her other admirable qualities nor does it solidify with finality that “basic” is all she is or ever could be. 

 Personally, I am striving to edit the way these statements are spoken to allow for more consideration and respect. For example:

“In some ways, she is basic.”
“He can be problematic.” or  “He does have problematic tendencies.”

I feel that when I think and speak in this way, I am finding a balance between honoring my own perspectives and opinions and allowing space for the people I am speaking about to be more than just the adjectival labels I have attributed to them.  At once, I am affirming in my eyes that he or she is this or that, but also recognizing that he or she also contains multitudes.  For me, this seems more respectful, more empathetic, and leaves open space to foster conversation and connection, even between two people who may oppose each other. 

Now, there are of course individuals in the world who seemingly can be summarized with strong adjectives and harsh statements.  We know there are people whose entire beings are consumed with negative and evil qualities and they do not deserve any considerations.  However, these people are the exception.  I would argue that the rule is most people are dynamic, multifaceted beings that are capable of being many things at one time and have the great potential for change and evolution.  I believe that in order to cultivate authentic connections, have honest conversations, and share different perspectives, harboring consideration and respect for each other without harsh discrimination and permanent condemnation is of the utmost importance.  Imagine if each of us looked at and listened to each other through the lens that everyone, no matter who, contains multitudes.  How much deeper would those authentic connections be?  How much more productive would those honest conversations be?  How much more could we grasp and understand others’ perspectives to then work toward mutual agreements?  

To be clear, this is not to say that we go through life with rose colored glasses on, bypass conflicts, and blindly hope for the best.  Absolutely, we must continue to call out harmful behaviors, demand change for the betterment of the collective, and engage in disagreements and conflicts as they arise.  All I offer is that as we do so, we allow the space for connection, growth, and grace by staying rooted in the knowledge that all of us contain multitudes and each of us has a role to play as we navigate this lifetime.

Cautiously Hopeful

Fear. Scarcity. Panic. These are the emotions, sensations, and reactions I have felt myself being invited into over the past week as my awareness of the news, discussions, and energies circulating around me has heightened. After finally accepting that a forced quarantine may be eminent, my best friend and I rushed out to the grocery stores to procure two weeks’ worth of food and supplies for ourselves and our closest loved ones. We went to the stores in good spirits, laughing that we were “apocalypse ready!” Upon seeing the empty shelves and freezer bins at Trader Joe’s, however, a sinking feeling overwhelmed my chest and I watched as my mind took a mini spiral into the primal mentality of scarcity. “Where will we get the food? How will I provide for my older mother? Will I need to fight for this?” I quickly pulled myself back up and out of the spiral, returning to the present, and redirecting my mind into the state of security and abundance I strive to operate from. Yet, I could not help but be astounded by how the present events are influencing our thoughts and feelings.

            The worry and concern I see on the faces of the people who pass me is clear. The fear in the eyes of the friends I speak to about the current situation is apparent. The energy of hysteria that radiates from the news and the society around me is palpable. As a person of privilege, I have never experienced anything quite like this; the worry about not having enough resources, the concern about not being able to seek and receive treatment if sick, the discomfort of not being able to work and maintain income. I realize now that in my twenty-nine years of life I have witness history unfolding: 9/11, the “war on terrorism”, the first black president of the United States, the first female almost-present of the United States, a world superpower divided over an election, and now this world-wide pandemic with no clear ending. In addition to 9/11, this piece of history in particular is impacting all us in immediate and tangible ways. It is a scary and all around interesting event to be a part of. 

            I myself am not fearful of the coronavirus (COVID-19). As a yoga and fitness instructor with a highly nutritious diet and with a genetically strong immune system, I feel confident that I would be asymptotic if I were to contract it, or if I did they would be mild and short lived. Additionally, experts say that 80% or more of the population that contract the virus will experience mild flu like symptoms for a short period of time. Based on the research I have done, I do believe this virus is more mild than the media is playing it up to be in their headlines and do feel that many are over reacting about the severity of the virus. That said, I am still deeply concerned about it. I am concerned for those with compromised immune systems that could potentially experience a severe bout of the illness. I am concerned for the elderly population who seem to be taking the brunt of this illness – my own grandparents are ninety and eighty-eight and I fear for them. I am concerned for those whose contracting the virus could potentially be serious and even deadly.

            Furthermore, this pandemic has brought to light the fragility of our economic system in America. Across various sectors, businesses have slowed exceptionally or come to complete grinding halts. Those taking the brunt of the business losses are the workers at and toward the bottom of the totem pole – the hourly workers, the workers that have to be physically present at their job site in order to earn income, the freelancers whose clients have stopped calling and booking. A large part of the panic and fear we are seeing in society is coming from those who realize that in the event of a shutdown that they will not be able to attend work, earn money, and will most likely not be supported with any sort of temporary severance package or cushion funding from their companies. Pair all of that with the fact that a potential quarantine means a large upfront cost to stock up on food and supplies for an extended period and we are looking at a lot of money lost and un-replenished for some.  And this is all before we add on healthcare costs if someone in these circumstances does become sick. For those without savings or familial support, this is a deeply uncomfortable and scary time.

            It is a tale as old as time, those at the top maintain stability, at least financially, during this pandemic, while those at the bottom face hardship and ruin. For me, it has enhanced my belief that we need more human-based systems of economy and business here in the United States. Companies need to commit to taking care of their loyal employees in case of a crisis like this – CEOs should cut profits and reallocate funds or else should forgo their own seven or eight figure salaries for six months in order to pay their bottom workers’ bare minimum cost of living expenses for two weeks to a month in the event that they are not allowed to work. The government should be allocating funds to be accessed by the people for food, supplies, and rent in the event of a shutdown. At present, our system supports a “survival of the fittest” mentality, with the fittest having an often unjust upper hand.  Moreover, if the dropping economy is causing such mayhem, why can’t we temporarily cancel the economy like we are everything else? Call me a naïve millennial, but as an old soul who has been around the track a few times, I just prioritize things a little differently.

             At any rate, we are experiencing a situation that is uncomfortable and frightening. The virus is a problem and it is multiplying into various other problems across different sectors and arenas. This is all very real. The heavy emotions and sensations we are experiencing around this are true and valid. Let me state that again – what you are feeling is valid. That said, we do not have to be consumed or driven by this darkness. We do not have to feed into the fear and let it define our lives over the coming weeks or months. To be clear, feeling worried, concerned, anxious, scarce, or fearful is not wrong or bad; these are all part of the human experience. We can certainly be cautious, we can plan and prepare, but what I am saying is that we can do all of this while holding onto hope. Events and concerts may be canceled, school may be canceled, work may be canceled. What is not canceled, however, is our ability to smile and to laugh, our ability to be generous and kind, our ability to create light even in the darkest of darks.

            I am fully aware of the potential hardships and dangers ahead. We have to accept that the coming weeks and maybe even months ahead will be challenging, uncertain, and uncomfortable; there is no denying it or escaping it. You may feel worried, concerned, anxious, scarce, and fearful – this is not bad, this all part of the human experience. I encourage you to honor the way you are feeling, sit with it, experience it in full, and understand it. Just remember, that these are not the only emotions you will ever feel again. I offer you the perspective that this too shall pass and does not have to define your inner world. I will feel all of the emotions as well, but I will continue to smile, I will continue to laugh, I will continue to help and to aid, I will continue to sing, I will continue to write, I will continue to create. The best of me will not be canceled, the best of me will continue in full power mode and I will do the good I can with that.

            Right now, the world is tempting us to react; to react in panic, with scarcity, with defeat, and with fear. But we do not have to. Instead, we can respond. We can respond with cautious optimism. We can respond with peaceful progress. We can respond with intuitive positivity. We can respond with hope, faith, trust, and love. The coming weeks and months may be challenging, but please remember, we are in this together. Rather than dividing in the fall, let’s unite in the rise. I love you, my friends.

Pray for Paris

Praying for my friends in Paris. The city and its people were so good to me during my time there. It is strange to think that I was walking through its streets and savoring in its sights and flavors less than 2 months ago. These horrific attacks are undeserved and incredibly devastating. I pray for a quick resolution and comfort to those that have lost.

Being Whole On Your Own

The world of relationships and love is a strange and confusing one; this we all know to be true. I myself have not had an exuberant amount of luck in this area. While I have dated and have had girlfriends, I have not been so lucky as many of my friends who have found young love that would appear to be the kind that will last. Even though my time in the relationship and dating world has not been extensive and I have spent most of my early 20’s single, I feel I have made some important observations about relationships based on the ones I have seen and paid attention to as well as my own relationships. I believe that I have found a common theme in my relationship studies that can make or break a couple – whether or not the two beings involved in the relationship are whole and complete on their own.

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