“Our logic says that what happens to you doesn’t matter to me, what happens to the world isn’t happening to me, but our hearts disagree. This logic contradicts our felt experience…what’s happening to children in Haiti…to child soldiers in Africa…to the whales…to the forest…that’s happening to me too. That’s something we can feel, that’s why it hurts when you see that photo of the sea bird drenched in oil…”
One of the biggest challenges in personal growth is one of bridging the gap between the logical/separate self and the connected self. The idea of the self as separate is essential for certain phases of our growth and structuring of identity. It’s what makes us distinct. And yet we are also the connected self. If we let one rule before the other, we can lose much of what we would otherwise give in connection. And yet if we never allow the heart’s own mind to have a say…we wither. The world withers and bombs explode. With the connected self, we recognize that on this day in 1945, we lost on levels unfathomable. And we continue to lose when we turn a blind eye on the murdering of innocents, piling up the death count into numbers well beyond what we encountered on 9/11 as we shake our heads, parsing words and labeling certain lives as expendable.
So much we can make whole when we embrace the connected self while accepting the separateness that makes us unique. We get there by way of what Rilke beautifully describes as a ” …more human love (that will fulfill itself, infinitely considerate and gentle, and kind and clear in binding and releasing) will resemble that which we are preparing with struggle and toil, the love that consists in this, that two solitudes protect and border and salute each other.” [Letters to a Young Poet, pg 58-59]
It’s this protecting, bordering and saluting, honoring of each other as separate but precious, and connected and even as one whole expression revealing love itself (all of us, man, woman, child, animal, earth, sky, nature) which will preserve the very point of life itself. It’s that dance between unity and separateness whose only music is love’s best, a dance whose steps celebrate connection without destroying our distinctions and uniqueness.