"Just like me - he wants to be happy. Just like me he wants to be safe. Just like me, he wants to be loved, happy, healthy and free."
I had an interesting experience yesterday. I found myself quite literally standing in the middle of a political brawl in the line of a supermarket in south Florida.
2 fathers. 2 families. 2 sets of young kids. And 2 very polarized perspectives on who ought to be leading our country next.
What was so fascinating (and a bit scary to see) was how a very ordinary conversation got so incredibly animated and energized with anger and animosity so quickly with such (potentially) disastrous results.
I literally was standing between 2 very angry grown men, fists raised - with small children in tow... pointing and yelling at another, while I stood there like a dummy,with a only a bag of Chester cheese doodles to shield me from what I anticipated was going to be a very painful first punch that invariably - was going to land somewhere in the neighborhood of my nose.
Considering I’m a bleeder, and a Buddha lover - I made a strategic decision.
I turned the guy behind me - who was wearing a hat with the 76ers NBA basketball team logo - the one who had the political perspective most alien to my own - and asked:
“Hey…man, are you from Philly?”
He stopped and looked at me and for a moment everyone paused.
"Yeah" he sort of grunted back at me.
"So am I," I said turning to face him. "I Live down here now. You live in West Palm?"
"Nah…..my ex lives down the street. My kids live here."
At this point, the other guy was talking to a manager who had come running over and a bunch of other customers were congregating around them all.Whatever was going to happen next (cops/security/etc) it looked pretty clear there was not going to be fight.
As the stress level in our little corner of the universe started to come back to normal……the guy in the 76rs cap and I continued to chat."
You watch the Eagles game Sunday?" I asked.
He let out a bunch of expletives...and then laughed.
His daughter shook her head and with eyes wide, no doubt from the strangeness of this particular shopping adventure, suddenly smiled as if all WAS right with the world.
I laughed too - and then, we all laughed together.
When it was my time to checkout, I quickly paid for my lunch, and we continued to make small talk.
I decided to stand there as he and his kids bought their stuff, not sure how he would respond, but he continued to talk about football, not missing shoveling snow, and before too long……the taboo topic of politics came back into view.
We walked out to the parking lot, and he once again, enthusiastically made political arguments with which I disagree.
But rather than try to argue or evangelize for an opposing view, which I typically do….. I tried to stay curious.
"But….Why" I asked with each new assertion
And with each new “why” more and more of what really matters most came into view.
For all of us.
What we fear. What we love. Where we've been. And most important - what we've lost along the way.
For a few frozen moments on a hazy, lazy mid Winter afternoon…..I understood.
To me, the most important and interesting lessons aren't those things that divide us.
Rather, those things that unite us.
What remains when our fears, frailties and the fragility of having to pick a side suddenly falls away.
"Namaste" is word much like Shalom.
It’s meaning, depends a bit on context and often, who you ask.
My favorite is this:
“The light in me, recognizes the light in you"
Of course, that can come off as saccharine sounding spiritual silliness.
But I know otherwise.
Just a small slender shred away, there really is a light.
Denuded of attitudes and opinions, a clean canvas of clear consciousness and undivided awareness.
A well of wisdom unblemished by the superficial scars and scrapes we get living lives of bumping and thumping up against each other at every turn.
You don’t have to dive too deeply to find it.
While we're over here, it's always there.
I believe this is what connects us - what unites us - and ultimately, what survives us.
And when you can't find compassion in your arsenal of attitudes to extend to another, curiosity is a close cousin that builds the same bridge.
This sounds like a pretty pedestrian superpower of course.
There is never going to be "Captain Curiosity" cartoon that will inspire superhero movies across the globe.
But there should be.
Because if we were all just a tad more curious about others - especially those who see the world through lenses of a different shade of experience than our own, how much wiser would we be?
How much more connected would we feel, to ourselves, and to others?
And much more compassion and understanding could we cultivate…..EVEN with (or especially FOR) those we disagree?
After all - underneath it all?
It’s all the same light.
And when you see it, either through finding flow, mediation, psychedelics, or simply losing yourself in something (or someone) you love, you finally feel free.
Anyway - that’s my tiny story. What’s yours?
And what is YOUR favorite superpower?
Do you have a specific strategy for dealing with difficult circumstances?
How do you offer hope and healing to the people that need your help?
What do you do? Who do you do it for? What do they need? And how do their lives change when you do what you know best....for them?
I’d like to invite you to share it.
First with me.
And then with the world.
As we prepare to launch a new book brand - and a community of teachers, trainers, authors, artists, helpers, healers, business Bodhisattva's and enlightened entrepreneurs, we want to invite those of you who have a magical message, an inspiring experience, or a tiny idea that you believe could change the world.....to join us.
Simply reach out to me via Twitter (@ianhollander) or connect with us via email (email@example.com) to discuss writing a book, creating a course or building your brand as an inspirational entrepreneur.
Alone we can change a neighborhood. Together we can change the world.
May all of the gifts inside you come out into the world.
When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent…you sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.” - Ram Dass