I just finished reading a memoir yesterday. It was one of those night when it was already past my bedtime, but I couldn’t put the book down. Being deeply immersed, it was as if I’ve walked inside the story book, witnessing the unfolding of the author’s life. The intricacy and complexity of human experiences never cease to amaze me.
Many years ago, I landed a job at a Crisis Residential Treatment Program in San Francisco after receiving my Bachelor degree. Honestly, I was not consciously planning to become a counselor, or to work with this population. It just happened.
It turned out to be the best entry I could ever imagine, into this profession, in the mental health field. Throughout the year, I had the privilege to listen to countless stories of human beings, from all walks of life – about their past, the predicaments, their dreams, and the regrets. Each of these meetings were truly special to me. I still remember some of these individuals, about the moments we shared. The terror and despair they’ve been through, and the opening of my heart and soul as I witnessed them recalling their journey, reclaiming their sense of self after tragic moments.
Too often we are so guarded and protective of ourselves that we miss the opportunities to connect, deeply with other human beings. We’ve been hurt, we carry our baggages from the past, we are afraid of being judged, we are too scared to open up. Yes, being vulnerable is scary. It brings up all the insecurities, all the pain and wounding we’ve accumulated in our life. But the loving connection that flows between human beings, as we open our heart and share our stories – raw and messy, but real nevertheless, is magical. As if a beautiful rainbow suddenly appear at the end of a storm. This connection embraces us with warmth and gentleness, with a sense of magical touch – which heals and fulfills our soul with sacred love.
I witnessed and participated in those magical moments – when a group of random humans came together, and shared their feelings, their hopes and dreams with each other. No fabrication, no facade, just real life, real story. And suddenly the group transformed – into a sacred circle. And we found out, we are more similar that we thought we were. As we bear witness to each other’s journey, our heart expand, our consciousness grow.
Being connected is a beautiful thing. But first we need to learn to listen. To truly listen to another human being means we need put our judgment and preconception to rest, even for just a moment. For it changes the energy in the interpersonal field, and open up the space for the other person to be themselves. For it sends a message that conveys acceptance and love.
This is a gift we can keep giving to each other – the courage in sharing our own story and the willingness to listen.