Friend, are you okay? How are you? Is it going well? Or is it a tough time? You can tell me, brother. My ear is yours at this moment, sister. Friend, if I have things you need to borrow, please ask me. I appreciate you. I appreciate the person that you are. I love you.
These words speak power. Their power comes in their ability to pull someone out from the busy stream of life and reach deep into their heart. As if to be plucked out of the chaos, even for just a moment. They are words that are easy to read, easy to write. But to say them with meaning, to deliver them with sincerity to another human being… it is something that many of us would struggle with. (Perhaps the bias may be toward men who typically aren’t steered by the society towards navigating these emotional waters.)Read more: Shells.
Making of the shells
It amuses and perplexes me how something that can be so positively powerful can feel out of reach for many of us. Throughout our relatively short time on this planet, it is easy (and sometimes necessary) to create a shell around ourselves. A big, hard, strong shell that protects us from the hurt, the pain, and the sadness that sometimes bubbles and oozes out from the earth. Fear of our neighbors becomes an insecurity that is targeted and exploited by the political powers of our day.
So of course, the world can feel cold. Or even dead. But those shells that we carry and build over our life can also be cold and hard themselves. When we are surrounded by coldness and hardness, it is naturally difficult to expect that compassion to flow like a river out from the world. The shells cover over our hearts with coldness and hardness, so if enough time passes inside the shell, we might conclude that the world is a cold and hard place.
Leaving the shells
But the only mistake in our human existence is to never leave the shell. Sometimes it is necessary and sometimes it is required. There are awful things that ooze out of the cracks of our fragile yet interdependent society. But if we make the shell our home, we sacrifice the warmth of the sun. We refuse the possibility of the beauty, the love, and compassion that also exists in our planet. We can find beauty in the smallest of things and most unusual of places. But if we are stuck in the shell, we are hidden from what is uncomfortable and difficult, but also what is joyful and empowering.
May we all come to know our shell, and also to know when we are in our shell. If we stay in it too long, we might forget what it is to take it off. What it feels like to feel joy. What it feels like to feel love. To accept love and give love. The most powerful, transformative, and awe-inspiring experiences on this planet called Earth will pass over us if we allow our hearts to harden.
Choose to love, not to hate.
Choose to trust, not to fear.
Always forgive, but never forget.
Follow the joyous path of light, and avoid the cynical path of darkness.
Know when to wear our shell for necessary protection, and know when to take it off for being vulnerable and human.
This reflection came after a bike ride. The rides are typically my most reflective time. There are no screens, no notifications, no distractions. It is me. The path. And my breath. After a week when I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed, this reflection came from a meditative mood and my desire to use my blog as a place to express myself better. (I think writing this post was more therapeutic than the tweet I was originally writing.)
A special thanks to Thich Nhat Hahn and this El Ten Eleven track for guiding my thoughts while writing: