We are all on our own journeys, at our own pace and with our own navigation. For the most part, the system works pretty well. On the commuter buses and trains, school buses and walks to the coffee shops, you see people minding their own compass and working out the next little bend in the road. When it gets hard, that’s when you see how much the system has broken down.
Once upon a time, we are told, there was this thing called community. Community allowed us to mostly know each other’s business and that is now what was been mostly shunned. The idea of neighbours and other close proximity beings knowing every major signpost in our lives has grown to be somewhat terrifying. For there can be no stoicism without secrets. It seems much easier to hold everything in and pick it apart like an old granny-knitted sweater when no-one else can judge. Because everyone wants to judge, right? Even in their helpfulness lies judgement of sorts.
What we then lost, and we’ve always understood there would be a sacrifice, is the support. Vulnerability makes you want to shore up reserves, not open up and reach out for help. Retracting from communities now means that reaching out is what we have to do for support. And it also means that most people are appalling at it. It’s occurred to me that, in the halcyon days of communities abound (if the stereotypes are true) as much as people knew who the doctor, the dentist and the gossip was, there must have been a natural candidate to play confidante and cheerleader. There must’ve been knowledge of that personality who offered love and an ear with no inclination of meddling or fixing. There must’ve been an understanding of who was most compassionate and empathetic and how to lean in towards them. There must’ve been those who were good at processing alone and those better at huddling it out in groups. And I wonder how the latter fare now.
I see so many of us on journeys and I see so many similarities: trying to fix things alone; feeling obliged to apologise for the solitary approach; feeling lonely in the challenges; wanting to explain the pain but wishing for telepathy as an easier path; needing to vent but not wanting to whinge. I see people trying to dive in headlong into the circumstance to be the healer or the guide. I see people rail against the insularity of the person trying to cope whilst knowing they know nothing of the challenges. I see less of people speaking to others with love and more with their own agendas. I see people listen with filters to understand what makes it relevant to them. I see less of people trying to understand and more of people trying to act on things.
Action is only a small small part of this world. But as we journey and more and more paths seem to collide happily or dramatically, the first question that seems to arise is ‘what am I supposed to do with this?’ And again, I sit with it and it feels wrong. We are so hell bent on the pace of our life that it feels like, and I know I have, we’ve lost the ability to sit in the moment and just listen in numbers or in intimacy. People will try to give you answers all the time, especially if your path, through any level of coincidence, seems to be crossing with theirs. We love to be right and to be of help. But the truth is, even if you speak the answer to someone, the answer was always only ever theirs anyway. We’ve stopped leaving food on people’s doorstep and swapped it with waltzing in with takeaway, in case someone ‘wants to chat’.
To those of who on journeys who I know, I offer you love and an ear. I’m not always perfect in how I may love and listen for I am, as we all are, on a journey too. I’ve no idea if our paths are aligned, crossing, or simply passing by but I see yours with pride. Because I see every single one of us stepping forward with vulnerability and hand outstretched. It makes the paces hard and it makes the will seem weak. But the power that I see is real. I won’t tell you what to do or how to do it but I will pace alongside for as long as the path allows.