So often when I fill this space with thoughts it’s about how much meaning or joy I derive from something that has happened in my life or in the world. Or for how grateful I am to have life coaching clients that inspire and teach me.
Today I am pausing to express gratitude to my readers for keeping me honest, for passionately engaging my work, for telling me I’m out of my mind, for pushing me to rethink my positions, for sharing how something I’ve written has moved them.
It has broadened me so. How could it not?
One reader wrote recently to point out that I’m only gratified by people who parrot my views back to me. While that isn’t accurate (OK, maybe occasionally), it did make me pause and set an intention to make sure I always appreciate even the most caustic feedback. By not taking any of it personally and giving credence to all of my mail, I am staying open to possibility and at least understanding more fully a viewpoint I may not agree with.
Here’s the thing about using our creativity. Ideally we do it to express. We put ourselves out there, make ourselves vulnerable, because it is who we are to create. The words pour on to the page (or the marks into the sketchbook or the notes on to the piano). We do it without the audience in mind, this creating. We craft because we must.
But oh, when it resonates or pushes buttons or overwhelms or inspires … magic. The personal becomes universal. The local becomes global. Audience breathes life into our creation.
Suddenly I find out about the like-minded, delightful kindred spirits, as well as those whose way of being is in complete contrast to mine. Sometimes, with the latter, I delve in just to find our common ground. There is usually something and it never feels trivial when I unearth it.
This is a great lesson of this year, my first in my 50s. A friend recently celebrated his 60th birthday and imparted some nuggets of wisdom, one of which was about how he learns the most from people he disagrees with. Ah, yes, I know this feeling and I told him so.
I bring up all of this to highlight this possibility of learning from those whose views are so different from our own. At the end of it, we may still think our neighbor or the pundit or our uncle is horribly misguided or ignorant, but at least we’ll be basing that judgment on a deeper understanding of his viewpoint. That’s huge, isn’t it? Especially in this day of snap judgments, generalizations, assumptions and stereotyping.
Let’s break free.
There is treasure in getting where someone else is coming from. Even if all we emerge with is the realization that their world view has been formed by the same things as ours – upbringing, education, life experience, spiritual awareness – that is something. It humanizes us and takes the charge out of the mindset that we need to be adversaries because our opinions differ.
I’m thinking of some amazing correspondences I’ve had with readers that helped illuminate the possibility of relationship and connection regardless of where we stood on the topic at hand. I’ve had beautiful Scripture sent to me, personal stories of strength and struggle and even some who have made insightful comments about my own progression as a columnist. All of it makes me feel wealthy.
Recently a reader sent along this quote from the late Jim Valvano:
“To me, there are three things we all should do everyday. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
I’ve come to think of my days like this now. It’s a given that I think every day. Probably overthink on most, in fact. And I certainly laugh every day. That’s crucial. But it’s the crying I find myself pondering now. Was I moved to tears today? What prompted it? I like that on some days it’s not a reach to recall that moment. Even better, I like that there was a time in my life when I was rarely moved to tears and that that has changed drastically.
Unfettered art. Blessed readers.
Another teary moment. It really is something special.
Nancy Colasurdo is a practicing life coach and freelance writer. Her Web site is www.nancola.com and you can follow her on Twitter @nancola. Please direct all questions/comments to FOXGamePlan@gmail.com.