The weather was beautiful this past weekend which made it a ripe time for visits with family and friends.
Saturday, we ate on the patio of a restaurant owned by friends, a married couple who also runs a farm together. I ran several businesses with my former spouse so have a glimpse of that kind of stress but restaurants are particularly arduous businesses in the best of times and the best of locations and this couple has had neither. I certainly don’t know what that kind of intensive24/7 life together feels like to them. I can and do, though, try to listen and learn, offer a bit of cheer and support when we’re visiting, and put bucks in their coffers by being good customers.
Sunday, I took a walk with my older brother who is a father of six, engineer by training, married for what’s got to be going on 30 years now. As a woman with no biological children, no head for math (a love of it but no head for it), divorced and on the cusp of being married again, I can’t relate to his life experience. I can and do, though, try to listen and learn, notice where I’m making assumption, and meet him where he is.
Later, I met up with a friend of 20 years, a metal worker who has lived with one toe in mainstream society while the rest of him has explored elsewhere. I can’t understand his long-ago choice to live for a time in a tee pee in Montana or what it’s like to be in one’s 60s while still pounding metal into gates and pot racks and sculptures. I can and do, though, try to listen and learn, enjoy the passion in his perspective, appreciate his art (including the bits scattered throughout our home and yard), trade books, and laugh a lot.
A weekend so rich with people I love and appreciate – not just these three but also my mom, sister and one nephew, Theresa’s aunt and cousin, and even my former spouse and my own beloved finance – I can’t fully understand any one of them. I can listen and learn; I can be curious; I can practice remembering that their life experiences and perspectives are as complex and real to them as mine are to me.
That is, I don’t have to be able to place myself squarely in another person’s shoes to offer presence, compassion, or nurturing. I just need to accept their humanity and humanness as givens.
A gentle reminder to myself, shared with you, as I think about trans and non-binary community, people with different skin tones than me, people from or living in countries other than the US, those who have been caught for the crimes they’ve committed (c’mon – tell me you’ve never broken even a little law) or imprisoned for those they haven’t, people with much higher or much lower incomes than us, the child we saw howling on his belly in a parking lot and his father talking gently to him, and those staking Trump 2024 flags in their yards, now, in 2021.
If you’re curious about how coaching can help you broaden from the perspective of your own personal intersectionality, and how that perspective can offer leverage toward your bigger life and badder self, I’d love to talk with you.