A Story of Ordinary People doing not-so-ordinary things
“When did we all fall in love with each other?”
This is the story of a group of ordinary people. This is the story of a group that was so normal, so non-extraordinary, that it could have been found on any of the corners of the Earth. And this is a story of a group that is so special that it grabbed ahold of life-giving energy and shifted something forever. This is a story of any part of humanity and one very, very special pool of beautiful souls.
This is the story that I’d like to tell you now. With your permission, I’d like to accompany you on this story. I’ll try to stand aside and not poke in too much, especially at the end. But, I get ahead of myself.
It started innocently enough. A conference room just a short jog from the Thames, a space of windows and coffee breaks and wire-frame chairs in a circle overlooking the sunshine (yes, sunshine!) of London. I remember walking in on that first day, nervous – yes, my friends, I was oh-so-nervous – and dressed in my “power” uniform: black pants, tall boots, and casual jacket. That combo never fails, by the way. Try it at the next nerve-wracking meeting.
Clad in my strong armor of professionalism and walls of confidence, I walked in just before the conference started (that was by design, if you were wondering. Too scary to get there early and strike up those conversations).
I’m pretty sure that Peter was the first one I saw. Of course it was Peter. It could have been no one other than Peter, possibly the nicest person on the planet. Peter, with his welcoming, sparkling, slightly mischievous smile. Peter with his oh-so-British and amazing pink shirt, which he has the ability to wear in an overwhelmingly masculine and also totally endearing way, all at the same time. Peter who is joyfully, finally engaged to be married (yaaaayyyy!!!) and will hopefully be spreading more of that amazing Peter-ness to the world. We’re all coming to the wedding, by the way. Because that’s what people that love each other do.
Oh, forgive me. I’ve jumped ahead again. We’re still at that moment of panic and uncertainty that begins at every group start.
What were we uncertain about? Oh, all the things. Were these people going to be slightly…odd? Were they going to be…not my kind of people? Were they going to hurt me somehow? Was I even in the right place? Was this the right step on my path? Can I trust them? Can I trust myself? What if they see me for who I really am?? Let’s put on a mask, You know, conference mask. Or friends group mask. Or networking event mask. Let me wait and see, observing from behind the mask. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the group I’ve always longed for.
Oh, they are, dear reader. And so much more.
The weeks passed. We went through the motions of the trainings. And it was amazing and we learned so much and lives were changed – and we never, never, can take anything away from that.
And, at the same time, something bigger, something deeper, was happening in the underneath.
You see, I’ve been in many groups. And I’ve seen many things. And while I’ve been part of really great conglomerations…I’ve never seen the depth of this before. And the allness of this before. I’ve never seen it be 100%. And, oh, thank you. Thank you, my friends.
It happened slowly. Oh, so slowly. Slowly, quietly, with trepidation, one of us leaned in. Or many of us leaned in. It doesn’t matter how it started – what matters is that it started. And some of us, perhaps older at it, or more reckless about it – took another step.
And so did everyone else.
And that’s what was so amazing.
What was that step? It was the step of taking away all of the outer parts, all of the armor, all of the names and hair and arms and bodies of that person across from you and saying “I see you.” It was each of us saying to all of the others, “I see you in all of your glory. I see you in all of the amazing-ness that went into creating this being across from me. I see you in everything fantastic that you’ve forgotten about yourself.” It was, of course, the first step of falling in love. And in seeing this in others, we realized that they saw us too.
Which, of course, means that all of our own armor had fallen away so that they could see us too. Because, annoyingly, soul-vision is a two-way street.
We leaned in. And we saw those should. And they were beautiful, weren’t they? And I mean – they were breathtakingly beautiful. Astounding. Outlandishly, exponentially beautiful. And we all fell in love.
It’s as simple as that. Lean in. Allow yourself to fall. And fall in love.
I want to clarify something here. We did not fall in love in the sense that we’re getting married or cohabitating. We fell in love in the sense that we are now blood brothers and sisters. We are those people that will walk through fire to defend each other. We are in love in the way that all of humanity should be in love with each other, if only we allowed ourselves to do so.
We all stood on the edge of that cliff of allowing. Dare we do this thing?? We saw the risks. We realized it wasn’t safe. And we all leaned in. And we all fell. And then we discovered in the falling that it wasn’t falling at all.
It was flying.
And then, as doesn’t always happen, we did something with that love. We. Turned. Around. We turned around. We circled together. We left no one behind. We fiercely and courageously stayed with each other. And we all – all of us, every single one, which is amazing, my friends – we all held up soul-mirrors to each other, and we said “don’t you see how amazing you are?? Can’t you see it? Because it is amazing. It is phenomenal. It is breathtakingly beautiful. And it is YOU. And I’m not settling for anything less than that you bathe yourself in this beauty that is you.”
Along the way, each one of us – myself incredibly included, my friends – faltered. Our flights of belief weren’t quite strong enough for the weight of the world. And we felt the darkness pulling from below, pulling us down.
Can you tell me what happened next, oh gentle reader? Of course you can. Because this story has a happy ending. No. This story has an Earth-shifting ending.
We. All. Flew. Down.
All of us. Every one. Every single one of us held that space for each other. And when one of us fell, we all flew down to be with. And to shine the biggest, brightest soul-mirror at our fellow soul-sister or -brother and said “You are not alone. And you are not anything less that this phenomenal. And we are going to hold that for you when you can’t hold it for yourself.” And in saying this, we were given an incredible gift.
We were given wings.
Like Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Like the wings angels win when they save a person on Earth. Like Red Bull wings that make you fly out of boardrooms and over tall buildings. Wings like that, minus the heart palpitations and sweats. Except for one thing – Red Bull wings last roughly 4 hours.
Our wings are forever wings.
Do you realize this inside your soul, my amazing friends? We have those wings forever. They are there. We might hide them under jackets or power suits, but when we need them they are there for us. Like the Bat-signal, we just have to call on the tribe and we’ll be there, pulling out those wings from hiding for you.
So how did we do it? Well, my words for it are audacious love. Like Mel’s audacious candor. I’m stealing the wording, Mel. Because, my love, you are the Queen of insight and powerful articulation. Deal with it. Sometimes that soul-mirror shines brightly in the eyes and makes you wince, doesn’t it? Grab a fab pair of Posh Spice sunglasses and bask in that glow, because I’m going to be here all night, holding that mirror up to you.
And what do you call it, my gentle reader? I’m sure there are names as old as time for this. Which is, at the same time, both encouraging and disheartening. Isn’t it?? Because this, this soul-mirroring, this audacious love, this wing-granting – this has been around since the dawn of time. Ancient books and treatises give us glimpses of other people, other civilizations, that have, at least for a time, been audacious in their love. And yet…it hasn’t been enough.
So here’s the part about the surprise ending. I’ll try to stand beside, because I am incredibly bad at standing in front.
Our audacious love had one more piece to it, one more piece that hasn’t been in all of the storybooks.
Our audacious love loved not in spite of, but because of.
For some reason, we decided to try that whole “inclusion” thing out. And when you include in audacious love, it means that you see ALL of the person, not just the beautiful, phenomenal, earth-shattering soul. It means you see the outer wrappings, too. It means you see the tangles and the worries and, yes, sometimes the uglies that are bruises and scabs on each on of us. And that means that our audacious love went where no persona has gone before. Our audacious love included every single part of us – it included the weak parts, the annoying parts, the excluded parts, the complaining parts, the overbearing parts (thank you for loving me through that!), the asshole parts, the demeaning parts, and the terrible, awful, hurtful parts. And do you know what our audacious love said when it saw ALL of those parts?
I see you.
I see you in your beautiful, amazing soul. I see you in your layers and layers of complications, because they are you, too. And we said to each other, after all of the searching and the seeing “oh there you are, you beautiful soul. There you are.”
I know from experience that sometimes the searching and the seeing is hard. Like really, really hard. Sometimes we feel that there is no beautiful in there, that there is no redeeming those parts. And sometimes our own parts get clogged up in their parts and we all start judging each other for what we’re not. But, if you can keep your heart open and your head up, you will always, always, always find it in that person that’s across from you.
And it will always, always be worth it.
So, I have a request for you. Because I recently learned that I don’t have to go it alone in life – that I have a tribe. And so, my tribe, here is my request.
Can we all, all of us, try this out out there in the wide open – even if it’s just a little bit? When we’re walking through the streets or waiting for coffee or sitting across from a colleague, can we see if we can see all of the parts and find their soul-sparkle? And if, if we feel like a challenge, can we try – just a little bit – to audaciously love that person across from it? And hold them with tenderness and love and fierce courage while we’re in the room with them? And if, by chance, you want to acknowledge that amazing ness, and want others to see it, can you write it out loud somewhere? I don’t care where. Facebook and Instagram of course always come to mind. And I know that those don’t always work so…just, wherever. And I completely realize that’s a lot to ask. So it’s just a request, just something to ponder in the coming weeks and months. I’m going to try it myself, which frankly freaks me out, but we’ll see what happens.
And now for a bit of fortune-telling. I’m good at that, you know. I have a prediction that we have something special that will not disappear. I don’t know how, but I have this feeling. You know how there are certain places and times that just produce… greatness? Like the Stanford and UCLA group of the early 1960s that created the internet. And Seattle in the late 1960s that produced all of the other computer things. And Florence in the early 1400s that produced the Renaissance.
I have this…this thing inside me that says that it all came from our type of all-inclusive, all-encompassing, all-understanding and all-forgiving audacious love.
And if, if, if we can take this gift out into the world – oh, the amazing we will create.
I have great faith in us. For I have seen each of your soul-sparkles, and I know just how amazing they all are. And that is, and will be, and always has been, nothing and everything more than enough.
I love you all. Thank you for letting me into your beautiful world.