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Tending to Hard Things

Tending to hard things is . . . well, hard.

I had a teacher who once said that the Middle East is the (human) heart of the world and that what plays out there is a mirror for what plays out in each of our hearts. That when we see it on the outside, we can find it easier on the inside.

What I can take from those words now is that there is much to tend to. It begs the question - how do we tend to things that are hard to turn to? Hard to digest? So big they immediately feel overwhelming? I'm certainly not an expert in global affairs and have no solution for what's playing out in the Middle East, let alone other parts of the world. But what I am an expert in is embracing this experience of being human. What I do know is that it isn't one thing that sets off wars, riots and violence - it's a series of events over time + disconnection from our human-ness. And that what does happen out there, is a reflection of what's in here, so our work lies in being able to go in and be with what we find. Tending to ourselves, our community, the collective. To be effective in these relationships requires that we start with ourselves first. One place to start is with what feels unsettled in your own heart. Where do you harden? Where do you insist on being right? Where do you judge or criticize others (we all do this btw)? In Chinese medicine, the tongue is ruled by the heart. Are your words harsh and biting, and if so, can you not judge yourself for having them but rather soften into the possibility of holding more complexity in your perspective? Can you hold the paradox of hating a trait in someone else and finding it in yourself? The paradox of our chronic, constant connectedness and the increasing isolation we feel? Protecting your heart while also staying open? Can you see how we all usually want the same basic things, but we have different beliefs about how to achieve them? Instead of there being a right way, can we agree that none of us knows with certainty what the way is? There's not a human that walks this Earth that knows the way. What if instead of searching for certainty, we got really comfortable with not knowing and harnessing curiosity instead? Tending to hard things requires something from within us that perhaps we've not met yet. Or haven't come to trust in ourselves. We may not think we can handle what we find, or that nothing is really bothering us yet our actions and bodies tell a different story. It's impossible to be a human in this world and not be impacted. Full stop.

Before you jump to DO-ing, start with BE-ing. Take a moment to slow down, feel into the space in your chest where your heart and lungs live. What do you notice? Numb, heavy, tight, open, spacious? See if you can be curious about what you feel there. Is there emotion? If so, see if you can let yourself feel it just as it is. Just for a moment. Let yourself be impacted by this world - this is how you digest it. Undigested grief leads to more numbing, anger, power-over and powerlessness.

Perhaps this is a small practice you would like to take on, a minute each day. Locating your heart and noticing what's there, without judgment.

Simple yet profound. This is a basic step of connection - one we all need a reminder of from time to time. It's a way to be kind to yourself, and therefore bringing more capacity to be kind to your people and to the collective. Remember the last time someone was kind to you when you were feeling angry/judgmental/critical/scared? See if you can hold the complexity of being human with a looser grip - for yourself and others.

You do matter and it's okay to feel what you feel. We're in this together.

Will you commit to being just one ounce kinder and more curious with me? We're all practicing being human together.


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