Company

“Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have answers. Let me keep company always with those who say, ‘Look!’ and laugh in astonishment and bow their heads.”

Mary Oliver, “Mysteries, Yes”

We all want answers. It’s our human desire. This desire impacts how we communicate with one another.

I have found that we often are not seeking to learn. This is reflected in how we engage with each other or how we don’t engage with each other. We’ve reached a level of narcissism as a society that is dazzling and keeps us tightly shut. I have seen people complain about dialogue. This week alone on Twitter, I saw at least 10 posts of people bashing those who responded negatively to their comment or “post.” If you can’t handle a different opinion than your own, then why post at all? Then, there are those who pride themselves in ignoring or brushing off those they disagree with– not out of care for the other person, but out of arrogance and feeling superiority. This is where we are at. Disagreement is just material for another complaining post that makes the writer or recipient some sort of victim of life.

I miss when people actually did things with their lives outside of posting or sharing a view on a certain topic. What happened to living a well-rounded, virtuous life? (Questions we should all be asking ourselves are: When was the last time we were willingly inconvenienced to meet another’s physical needs? How often do we step out of our comfort settings?) I miss when people had their own thoughts (meaning they could actually back them up with unique phrases, history and motivations rather than a regurgitation), even if they were disagreeable. I miss when we could actually engage with one another and have dialogue, so both sides could learn. This is diminishing, sometimes not even out of lack of willingness, but out of lack of depth. We have become echoes of other men, rather than separate voices.

As we enter a new season filled with its own challenges, I hope we can take time to shut off the noise and listen to God first. I hope we can develop our own thoughts. That we can do more with our lives than post. That we can show true character and care for others. Sometimes, care does look like a difficult conversation.

I have found in my own experience that sometimes, my intentionality in trying to show others kindness and respect in a moment of vulnerability has been misunderstood for agreement. And then, if something comes up where there is disagreement expressed, people look at you like you are another creature. You can feel the shift. Suddenly, you aren’t the person they want to turn to when you don’t mirror them. Textbook projection. I’ve had someone who didn’t know me try to tell me who I was. This was funny and insane, all the same.

There is nuance in life. I’ve mentioned it before, but it seems like something we keep trying to gloss over. It’s absurd to think that everyone you like thinks like you. I remember I was in a meeting once, and a superior was shocked that not everyone thought like him/her. How dare we all have our own minds, sets of experiences, and desires in the same org? We need to step out of this arrogance. I loved Mary Oliver’s words that opened the post. This idea of keeping in close company those willing enough to be wrong. (Notice others are not discarded or shut out but just left at a distance). We put surety on a pedastal, but what if surety is overrated? Who ever changed the world with something others thought was a “sure thing”? What we need is a world filled with more people trying to make discoveries, saying, “Look!”

What if we gave people freedom and space to move around in? What if the truly intelligent person is the one who leaves more space for the unknown, rather than trying to push something they believe is settled? What if we were ok being surprised by life–astonished even? What if we were humble enough to bow in that astonishment? Part of life’s mystery is how God continues to astonish us at every turn. Every turn.

I’m all for being a lifetime learner. If you hate this, let me know and explain why. xx

Published by Gabriela Yareliz

Gabriela is a writer, editor and attorney. She loves the art of storytelling, and she is based in NYC.

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