NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE

Reaching Toward Connection

May 29, 2010

 

I’ve been living out of a suitcase this month, visiting family and friends and shivering my way through Nevada, California and Idaho. Winter seems to be nudging spring aside even though June is only days away. Last night it snowed a half inch; clouds are threatening to bring more today. Reunions with old friends, meeting new friends, and deeper family connections have kept me warm despite the weather. Experiencing so much interaction with different people in different places, I’ve noticed most everyone is dealing with the vagaries and vicissitudes of life, pushed and pulled into situations that vary from the merely challenging to the outright terrifying.

 

What has caught my attention is the way people are speaking up and reaching out. Voicing opinions, fears, and conversing— perhaps for the first time—with those close to them, they are not allowing the erratic, unexpected situations to silence them. Friends are asking for advice and support from friends, families are drawing closer, and as the conversations ripple out, solutions and possibilities are also coming from complete strangers.

 

I’ve witnessed tears and anguish, laughter and insight, fueled by a fierce willingness— like the snow-covered blossoms and tiny leaf buds on the trees that persevere and unfurl a bit every day— a conscious, intuitive refusal to give up, go the old route, take the easy way out, keep doing the same old thing.

 

Growth and fragrant rebirth are in the air. As French author Muriel Barbery writes in her novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog, “…maybe that’s what life is about; there’s a lot of despair, but also the odd moment of beauty, where time is no longer the same…something suspended, an elsewhere…an always within never.”

 

This is what I’ve sensed this past few weeks—fragile, vulnerable and courageous humans reaching for the always within the seemingly ubiquitous never. Pausing in awe of the beauty and freshness of a child’s laugh, stopping to soak in the wonder of a red-winged blackbird, relishing the comfort of a long and much-needed hug, taking the time to be generous with kindness and understanding in countless forms.

 

There is immense beauty in this world. Reach out, gather it around you, and pass it forward. For everyone’s sake.

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