I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but honestly, I’m not sure where to start.
I think most people who’ve been through some kind of life-altering event, like cancer, the kind that truly rocks you to the very core, come out of the experience with a changed perspective on life.
I’ve spent many, many nights in the dark staring into the deepest parts of myself, coming face to face with death, life, and my deepest self. It sounds so cliche and there is no way to make it not sound cliche, but I’ve made these realizations about my own unshakeable beliefs, what I believe is True.
1. We only have this Earth. Denial is so strong. Dislike of change is even stronger. I now feel the evidence is incontrovertible. Our Earth is changing. We may not be able to reverse or slow the change. It will affect all of us, whether or not you “believe” in climate change. We all need to change the way we live, on a day to day basis. If not now, by choice, to prevent further change, then it will be by necessity due to drastic changes in our world (drought, ecosystem change, farming collapse, shortage of raw materials, etc.). It sounds very Doomsday when put like this, but I do see these outcomes as very logical outcomes to our current overconsumption.
2. We are united by suffering. Some of us just haven’t experienced it yet. I have 1,000 times more empathy for my fellow human now that I have also experienced fear of death as you can only know by seeing Its Face clearly. I have experienced the joy of birth, and its twin protectiveness and fear for the well-being of another beyond anything I could have imagined. I can’t know what a refugee from a war zone in Sudan has gone through, but I hope I have more empathy for their experience now.
3. All people are equal and deserving of basic human dignity. This is easy to say, and I hope everyone reading this would agree with this statement. However, this does not seem to be borne out in public discussion these days. I myself have been guilty of pragmatically adjusting my belief in this statement in the past, but I now realize life is much, much too short for any of us to deny any fellow human these basic rights. People should be able to love and marry the person they choose, and have those relationships be legally recognized. Period. People should have the right to control their own bodies. People should be treated with dignity, regardless of circumstance and situation.
We are all the same. We are all united in this struggle call the human experience. We are all dependent on the same Earth and share the same resources. We are the creators of any inequalities, and we can work to erase those just the same.
As I said, cliche, but I can’t find any words to describe the depth of the revelatory experience I underwent to arrive at these beliefs. I will try a little here:
In the darkest of the dark nights, after Grandma Emmi passed and when I was sure that the melanoma had returned to my lymph nodes and my time was short, I sat nursing my very small baby and gazed inward for long hours, somewhere between waking and sleep. Feeling the certainty of death (for it is certain for all of us), I looked down into a deep, deep well and saw an ocean of souls. All the souls of all humans, past and present. For the first time, I felt the true size of my being and realized how very, very, very small I am. I felt the weight of my time on this Earth as it truly is. I saw how very brief even Grandma Emmi’s 80 years were.
We truly have so little time. We have so few precious resources. We cannot afford to waste any time, love, or earth.
It's a privilege, looking through your eyes this way. Thank you for sharing.
Rob Hill said:
Or people. 🙂
Fernanda Litt said:
That is utterly beautiful Shannon. Brings tears to my eyes. And you're so right, it is all so precious and so worth fighting for.
Pete Greider said:
Thanks, Shannon. You have a very special gift for capturing the human experience in words. You're an artist.
Annette Martinez said:
Carmen Melton said:
It is incredible how well these statements echo my own beliefs. To think we are different human beings with 2 completely separate life experiences, and to have arrived at the same conclusions, as I know many have, on our own and in our own way; this is no coincidence. Clearly none are so different. Much love and peace to you always.