Sometimes, I think of us humans as being more like turtles. We carry a protective shell with us and poke our heads out or withdraw depending on the circumstances or perceived threat level. But, we rarely feel safe and secure enough to shed the shell entirely. Similar to a turtle’s shell providing protective housing, we too as humans can create our own structures of identity that we use to protect ourselves and our vulnerabilities. Structures that are like houses. Some may be simple and easily accessible like an open beach hut. For others, their structures can be a fortress or castle that embodies an arsenal of defense mechanisms including a big moat to keep unwanted intruders out. As we encounter one another as we move throughout our lives, there is a kind of negotiation: Are we invited in? Are we being turned away? Is the inhabitant coming out to greet us or play? Are there rules that have to be obeyed? We have a choice. We can stay locked up in the castles and houses of our own making rarely opening the door or windows. We can engage others when we want them to come inside our world without having to take the risk of leaving the safety of our structures. Or, we can venture out; shed our shells and share a genuine, open, and honest experience with one another.
I think it’s important to make a point about genuine honesty. Being honest and open does not require sharing deep personal intimacy, all your thoughts and feelings, and exposing all aspects of yourself. Even though, there are instances when being dishonest involves a withholding of some kind. What I am referring to is creating space to be present without hidden agendas driving the experience. To step outside the subtleties that seek to fortify insecurities, manipulate for personal gain, hide behind masks, titles, and roles, and in general ignore the presence of some one or some thing in order to stay locked inside the house. We can learn to recognize and observe, to open the doors and windows, and just walk outside.
I must admit, in my experience, it takes a lot of personal growth that requires psychological and spiritual work in order to feel safe enough to open the door. It is not easy to drop down the plank, leave the castle, and walk out into the bright sunny meadow. In my life, I have tried to live my intention of offering genuine attention through shared interaction and experience. Even more often, I have found myself being coaxed (sometimes even dragged!) into another’s structure or presented with requests that are similar to being asked to climb up a ladder and into a window in order to enter. And, naturally, there are many times when I have been turned away. However, what I realize now is that I do not seek to come into your home that is your protective personality and space. What I seek is to share. Share in a walk through life being present, available, mutually beneficial, and supportive of one another. For us both to leave our houses of ego, judgments, and expectations that create assumptions, defensiveness, and unkind acts. For us to stop seeing one another as a threat to our well-being or an answer to what we seek. We do not need to coax one another in and out of each others houses in order to share common ground. I am suggesting we come out, join together in loving-kindness, patience, tolerance, and equanimity which fosters compassion and empathy.
I invite you to walk with me on a path to genuine, mutually beneficial, and supportive experience. To wander through a sunny meadow, through the woods, or on a beach hand in hand: silent, chatting, moving, sitting, and simply enjoying the pleasure of not having to prove, justify, or defend. To simply be in whatever shape and form that takes as we soak in the grace and the agony of human experience. Together, we can create space to share in generosity of spirit. All we have to do is venture beyond the walls of our identities and meet in the vastness of grace. May our trails cross on the road to loving kindness.