6 September 2021

Travel Buddies

Try to stay with me as we eye roll together through a rather trite scenario:

So here you are, standing inside the hospital room where your baby is to be born. The overhead light is dimmed and a floor lamp in the corner warms the room. It’s quiet. So quiet that you can hear the clock tick. Not with calmingly lull or eager anticipation but unnerving like a time bomb as the doctor awaits your decision.

Drumroll for the cliché kicker. Both lives are not guaranteed – momma and baby – and it’s up to you to pick.

Your love who you met under all the splendor and serendipity of a rainbow in February. A romance that’s a deep and cozy current of countless joyous moments soothing everything in your being down to the mitochondria inside your cells.

Or it’s your baby. Who without even a touch, a single breath, or opened eyes has condensed weeks into minutes and added fireworks to a future that was previously foggy. A baby that would make your stubborn selfishness dissipate into the ethers and your rib cage explode by the impact of your heart as it listens to the sounds of a first gut gurgling giggle.

It can’t be you. Only baby or sweetheart. Both loves that breach all earthly reason. You must choose.

It’s an impossible ask.
And while in real life you may have no children or partner, we can all plug ourselves in to the weight of this. It’s because it’s the root of all humans. Love for our children and family and a devotion to protect them at all cost. It doesn’t matter what century you come from, what corner of the earth, or what upbringing you were given. It’s fundamental and innate to each and every one of us.

It’s the beat we measure our decisions by and the dreams that sooth or wake us every night.

Yet, our world has been primed for and inundated with tribalism and divisiveness. Probably in part a primitive instinct of survival. But also relics of fear of horrible acts from times past that don’t even make sense anymore in modern life.

As I see it there’s exactly one way out – to intentionally, patiently, and painstakingly bridge the gap by seeing that at the core we are all the same.

As far as I know, I didn’t chose the time or city I was raised in. Nor did I chose the ethnicity I would be given or the ideology I would be seeded with. In fact I was raised by a parent with whom I didn’t share genetics with, so it’s easy to imagine I could have become somewhat different, simply by the luck of a draw. Or perhaps by something divine, but regardless, nothing that I was aware of as I came to be.

It’s all arbitrary.

If I had been raised by my biological family, I would have likely been anchored in the affluence and liberal elitism of Boulder. Instead I was given something very special – two parents who came from opposite upbringings. One made of all things hardworking Southern and the other all deep-feeling hippy. And while one might favor less government or the other less capitalism, both are intelligent, caring, and motivated by the same thing—to love and be loved.

Yes, all annoyingly cliché but it’s true and helpful. Apparently we need the reminding.

I have stumbled into this blog after years of witnessing righteousness, fear, and confusion. Now kicked into gear because just this weekend, I had two people I love dearly share with me viper spitting hate for the “others”.

The aggression was hard to digest and heartbreaking to reconcile in those wondrous people that I love. Because I know they are more than that and more importantly, I know they are deep down the same.

Not for one second do I think silence and acceptance is the answer. But I do believe, having the willingness to remain open and see people as fundamentally “same” is the opportunity for improvement. Rather than identify issues of contention and dig our heals in, place those same heals gently in front of them with open ears and heart, trying to understand how it is that they, with equally aspired intentions and intellect have landed in such different places.

This stepping forward is difficult. Loosening up one’s ideology is perhaps one of the greatest challenges of all. It requires profound empathy, humility, imagination, and most certainly a lot of focused breath. But as I see it, it’s one of those few “musts” we have to take on. We don’t have to agree. We don’t have to blend. But we do have to be open to differences as equally valid and more importantly, not scary.

I know many will have this “but, but, but!” response. And then citing what they believe to be *actual and legitimate* fears of the “other’s” ways. The problem is, this just exacerbates it. The fear, the pushing back, and the divisiveness create stronger opinions, and more separation. Softening and trying to understand will actually bring understanding and comfortable coexistence.

It’s so hard. Many years ago I had an argument with my father in law. We had many differences of opinions, rooted in differences of experiences, and differences in biological being. He was making the argument that philosophically there is exactly one truth. Certainly the implication was that some see the truth and others are believing an illusion. He was a scientific man, highly learned and driven by logic.

I believe that for him grey space was unsettling, like grasping hands through turbulent waves to keep from drowning. So, as I said, we argued. No heads in the sand acceptance for either of us and only minimal spitting of disgust. We did our best to remain open, and if not coming to agreement, we still gave each other the space to share.

I believe existence is lived almost entirely in the grey zone. You have to stop grasping the water and flop on your back, splay out your arms, relax your torso, and float. It will be unsettling with constant disorientation. At moments you will be seeing the northern stars, and at others the crescent moon.

I wanted him to see this nuance. That yes, the stars are always there, as is the moon. Apparent fact. But my view is always going to be different than his because I literally, physically can’t step into the same material space as his body to see it as he does. Not to mention the changes in clouds, weather, and birds shitting on our faces at any given time.

It’s complex and my truth was never going to fully align with his truth. Same to our beliefs, whether it’s religious or political or child rearing or whatever. But we can unite at the root. That we’re all afloat, wanting nothing more than to be together and in wellness with those that we love.

So from that place, if I could be open to hearing your view, which perhaps sees the phase of the moon we are in and how high up in the sky it is, and then combine it with my view of the constellations, we will have gifted each other with more pieces of the overall truth, making navigation back to the land of love much easier.

We humans aren’t super adept bobbing out in the blue depths alone, so we must commit to softening, listening, imagining, and challenging *ourselves* …rather than our precious travel buddies–who in fact have so much to offer.