All Stories Can Be Summed Up Into This One Line

We are one.

Whether it’s a Regency-era novel or reality TV, self-help books or Sufi poetry, indie movies or Insta highlights – every story we read/hear gives us a peak into someone else’s life.

The story might be set in a past or future landscape, and take place halfway across the world from you. It might be an encapsulation of one person’s emotions or her description of a moment in time. Whatever the story, each one shows us another perspective, another life into which we could have been born. But just because we weren’t, doesn’t mean we can’t try to understand what it’s like to be “other”.

Stories create empathy. They allow us to see ourselves in others. And if we can truly see our reflection in another person, or in several other people, or, indeed, the whole of mankind, we would realize that we’re all the same. We each have a human body with a soul or consciousness. We all go through the same cycles of life and experience the same laws of nature.

If you walked down the street today, and passed by someone who looked exactly like you, perhaps you’d be more likely to smile and say “Hi!” If your enemy suddenly transformed into your mirror image, you’d probably be more likely to resolve your conflicts and forgive him. What if you saw yourself on the news, being attacked or oppressed in some way; wouldn’t you be more likely to help yourself? To speak up, to tell your story, to call out injustice. To create an uproar.

We are one. And like some idiot who hammers nails into his feet and sets his hair on fire, we’re only hurting ourselves by not taking care of each other. It’s only natural for our world to be in pain right now. It’s a symptom of all the damage we’ve inflicted on each other. What’s unnatural is for us – all of us – to not be screaming out in anguish.

Dayton. El Paso. Chicago.

Kashmir. Palestine. Syria.

The Amazon Forest. Our polluted oceans. The toxic atmosphere.

There is no lack of stories to be told, people and places to be cared for. And the great thing is, there is no lack of love in this world, or positive energy with which to spread that love.

So next time you’re walking down the street, see if you can spot yourself – your thoughts, your emotions, your experiences – in the person that passes you by. Then take a moment to wonder what that person’s story might be. The tingle that you feel in your heart? It’s called Empathy, and it’s just another word for Love.

My First Prose Poem Performance

About nine months ago, I shared a prose poem with all of you entitled, “Bare Naked”. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, you can find it here. Today, I’m sharing a video of myself for the first time, in which I’m “performing” it. This is new to me, so thank you, in advance, for your views and comments!

What Does it Mean to be Free?

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like

to evaporate into the air,

transform into a molecule of oxygen and join the rush of wind

as it enters my house through an open window,

flowing past me in a wave of ecstasy,

before rushing out again.

I wonder what it would be like to fly,

to feel the coolness of the breeze and the warmth of the sun at the same time.

But not just to feel the breeze,

to be the breeze,

leaving everyone I pass in a state of bliss.

I wonder what it would be like to feel my own self so fully,

my own little universe in my own tiny molecule,

but also, to be a part of something greater than myself,

the collective expanse of air that makes up our atmosphere.

I wonder what it would be like to fly through the world,

and go anywhere I wanted,

not rooted to any spot,

not bound by the limitations of geography

or the human body.

I wonder what it would feel like

to own this world.

All my life I have felt unanchored,

adrift at sea,

and uncomfortable,

in a way that disturbed me when I was growing up.

The fact of the matter is,

I’m still growing up.

I used to spend each day

trying to figure out why I felt this way,

why I couldn’t feel at peace in the security of my family,

the walls of my house,

knowing that I was loved

knowing that I was taken care of.

Why wasn’t that enough for me?

Now I’m starting to think

I was never actually meant to cling to anything so tightly in the first place.

I was meant to be free,

I just never understood how.

Why would I want to hold on so fiercely to things,

to relationships,

to moments,

to concepts of home,

that are all just constructs of my imagination,

none of them permanent?

No matter how precious they are to me,

I have no control over any of them.

In fact, I have no control over anything.

And that’s why I need to learn to be okay

with just being that free-floating molecule of air,

whether I’m lying stagnant on a hot summer’s day

or whipping about in a fevered frenzy,

or even being thrown from one side of the world to the other

in what feels like a catastrophic storm.

I have no control over what happens in this world.

So why am I trying to grasp so fervently onto what are,

essentially,

clouds,

reassuring and ephemeral,

beautiful yet banal.

I need to learn to let go.

I need to learn to let go

and just enjoy the ride.

Maybe then being unanchored will feel more like freedom.

I am larger than what my body allows me to be.

I am a force of nature, bursting at the seams,

as if I’m trying to get out,

not out of this world, mind you,

but, out of my body.

I’ve always known that there was something precious inside me –

inside all of us –

but for years, I hid it away like a dirty secret

under all these layers of my own making

and now that I’m trying to strip away those layers

and tear down those walls,

that sparkling and buoyant Being is expanding inside of me.

It wants to grow larger than humanly possible.

It wants to bend reality and challenge the limits of my imagination.

It wants to break free,

as if this combination of body and mind is some kind of prison,

but it’s not.

At least, it doesn’t have to be.

It’s only a prison if I allow it to be one.

It’s meant to be a vessel that I borrowed for a short time

which will help me experience what it’s like to be human,

to experience pain and pleasure and everything in between

the way only a human can.

But this growing Being inside of me

isn’t quite content with this arrangement.

It wants to be free.

Of what, I’m not sure.

How can I be both a human of this world,

and a Being far harder to describe, from some other world,

at the same time?

One foot here and one foot there.

How can I be in two different places at once,

two different beings in one?

Please help me

to be both human and spirit at the same time,

to find the balance to float freely between worlds,

as seamlessly as the wind blowing in and out of my window.

Please help me to unanchor myself from my limited understanding of the world,

and to be okay with it.

I long for the truth,

but I don’t need to know it all,

at least not yet.

Please help me let my Being evolve as much as it can,

even if that means it grows larger than the confines of my body,

as enormous as the Earth itself,

as inexhaustible as the universe.

Who says I can only be a human who exists inside the universe?

Why can’t I be something greater?

Something shiny yet invisible, full yet free, everywhere and nowhere at once, 

with the universe inside of me?

The Jaded ‘One’

Five years ago, I started a now inactive blog called “A Storyed Sensibility”. This is a slightly edited re-post of a blog from that site. It still resonates with me today, and I hope it will with you, too. Please share your thoughts below after you’ve read it.

Many of us spend the first two decades of our lives in fear. We are taught by our families to fear God, to be on our best behavior in order to avoid punishment, be it in the pits of hell or behind the palms of our parents’ hands. We’re told to fear falling behind in school and getting bad grades because otherwise, we won’t get into a good college. And if we don’t get into a good college, our future is screwed. We won’t get a decent job, no one will want to marry us, and we’ll spend the rest of our days poor, alone, and miserable. Also, we better make sure we fit in with the masses, because standing out will make us seem different, and different is always bad.

Of course, as you grow into young adulthood, many of the beliefs you once held to be true take the form of the myths they really are. You realize standing out can be a positive thing. It makes you unique. Being different adds richness and diversity to the world. And getting a high salaried office job is not the comfort you once thought it would be. In fact, you’re miserable in your career, despite having more money than you need, and all you want is to feel happy and alive. Short term goals like losing weight and getting that promotion don’t necessarily lead to happiness. And the high of having a glossy magazine-worthy wedding will only last so long; it won’t replace the fissures in your relationship.

A lot of people spend an excessive amount of time in this Jaded Zone, saying things like:

“Life isn’t all it’s knocked up to be.”

“I’m just another cog in the machine.”

“God? Which God? If there was a God, the world wouldn’t be as messed up as it is right now.”

I know this, because I’ve been there. And, every so often, I cycle back to this Jaded Zone.

After a series of random moments of clarity, though, over the course of the last three years, I have come to believe that if you are sincerely in search of the truth, you will eventually find it. In fact, it will be revealed to you.

Each person’s journey is different; their goalposts won’t necessarily match up, but they’ll all eventually arrive at the same truth. It might be an overnight revelation for some, and a life-long struggle for others. For me, it was the year I turned 36; everything changed. I’d been searching for so long, trying to answer all these complex existential questions like, who am I, where is home, what is my mission, why am I so miserable, and why isn’t God responding to me.

What I didn’t realize until then was that He’d been communicating with me all along. I just didn’t have the tools I’d needed to be aware of it. I’d been blind even though I had eyes to see; I’d been deaf though I had ears to hear; and I’d been dumb, despite the fact that, as a member of the most complex species in the world, I had a brain. I’d just been focusing on all the wrong things.

The truth is so simple it hurts. It hurts because I see now how far the world has drifted away from it. And the effort to unmask this worldly façade feels almost futile.

The truth is: we are One. Like the different parts of a body, we can only work effectively, if we work together. If I stab my left hand with my right, it doesn’t help the rest of my body in any way. The health of the entire body, the entire human race, can only be assured, if it extends to everyone.

We are each unique and beautiful in our own way. There is a little piece of God in each of us, and yet we waste so much time worrying that we’re not pretty, or we’re too fat, or we’re unworthy of anyone’s love. Would you ever say God is ugly? Would you ever say God is fat? If, indeed, you believe in God, and you imagine him in the same manner you might imagine Santa Clause – gentle and loving, full of affection, wagging his finger to those kids who’ve been naughty, lavishing gifts on those kids who’ve been nice – then would you ever think him unworthy of love? I don’t think so.

Even if you don’t believe in God, surely you believe there is some kind of Universal Energy or Power which controls the cycles of nature. Do you think that Energy cares if we are rich or poor? Do you think it makes distinctions between which houses are too opulent to be ruined by hurricanes, and which are too spare?

If we can recognize the beauty in each one of us, and forget about the really useless issues, like which designer bag we can afford, or why he/she isn’t returning our calls, then maybe we can move on with the next step in our lives. To put it in mathematical terms,

God’s love = brotherly love = self love

We know it’s important to love God. We’ve been taught to love our fellow man. But what we hardly hear is the importance of loving ourselves. Of respecting our bodies. Of trusting our intuition. And of treasuring our gifts.

Once we realize just how important we are, so much so that God thought us worthy of being created and put on this Earth, we can move ahead with the business of trying to figure out why we’re here. What is our mission? Because I’m pretty sure it isn’t just to break our backs making money and then spending it all to live in empty comfort. Each of us is here for a different reason. And what I’m starting to believe is that God only reveals your path if you are truly searching for it. The internal struggle, the curiosity, the desire to ‘do more’ and ‘be more’ – that’s a pre-requisite.

The lucky ones among us may have been hearing this message from Day One. Perhaps their parents were already enlightened. Most of us, though, have parents who’ve had their own struggles in life; they weren’t necessarily able to lift themselves out of their troubles long enough to realize what was what. But today, everything is different. The world is smaller than it’s ever been before. We’re more connected than ever, and it doesn’t take a genius to realize that we’re all in this together. We can either all spectacularly fail together, or we can slowly plod our way to progress.

All it takes is a bit of reflection. If we can shut our Netflix for long enough, and stop taking selfies, if we can stop scrolling through Instagram and playing video games for long enough, we might just be able to experience this truth. That we are all One. And submitting to God is only as good as your ability to submit to each other. That love comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. And it is a far better unifier than hate.

We are far from destroyed. We need not be disheartened. We have only to treat each other the way we want to be treated. There’s a reason they call it the Golden Rule. We have only to continue our education insofar as it helps us to learn more about how the world works. We have only to bask in the awe of how different we all are and to focus on the reality of how similar we all are. We have only to be our best selves; to be good to our families, friends, and neighbors; to learn what our missions are and how we can utilize our talents towards those missions; to stand up for the truth; and to spread the message of Oneness. We have only to love each person on this planet, no matter how wretched or saintly, because God considered each one of them worthy of Creation. We have only to fight our own demons, be they negativity, addiction, envy, rage, or fear. We have only to try. And to keep trying. And to try even harder, yet fall countless times, only to get up and try again.

And we have only one life in which to do it.