As we grow older the pool of people we meet and befriend becomes larger and more diversified. Some are just acquaintances while others have been there during the worst crisis of our lives.
I have witnessed people truly coming together in support and out of compassion for one another and it is a beautiful thing. I volunteer as a facilitator of support groups for those suffering from mental illness as well as their caregivers. Often the people that attend my groups are living in a psychiatric ward or have just been discharged. Many of the participants were or are admitted at the same time and so they become familiar with one another. This provides them with a common ground and a shared understanding of the pain and daily challenges they all face.
They don’t pretend to be someone they are not. They are past the stage of disguises and stories and fake images. They are exhausted but they are fighters and they deal with the very essence of survival in the bleakest of moments.
Through these people I experience a refreshing dose of reality at its core and I would much rather spend time with any of them over someone who places judgement upon them.
The thing is, if I were to meet one of these individuals at a party or a conference or on the bus, I would have no idea of their experiences - how could I?
If you really sit down and talk to someone without all the layers and layers of bullshit and you lay it on the line ... this is who I am, this is what makes me feel comfortable, this is what makes me feel awkward and I would really appreciate if you could do ...so and so... or not do so and so...
Can you imagine if that was the way everyone met and introduced themselves to one another? You would know their weak spots, their boundaries, their likes and dislikes and how to make sure you provide a positive and warm environment for them. Wouldn't that be a nice start to a friendship?
The point is that you really don't know anyone until you give them the chance to tell you about themselves and even then you have to weigh the truth, the facts with whatever else is mixed into that recipe.
Everyone has a story - in all of us there is a novel to be read. These novels are filled with many words, verbs, adjectives, metaphors, phrases, question marks, exclamation marks and answers.
And somewhere in the middle or toward the end, if you look carefully enough, you will discover the root of our existence - the Soul.
It may slip by you at first but your gut will demand that you search again and dig up that buried treasure. A Soul isn't an easy find but it's there waiting to be discovered.
So at the end of the day, at the end of every day, you should ask yourself -
"Whose soul did I discover today?"
Soul searching is mystical.
Soul searching is movement.
Soul searching is not only how we find ourselves - it is how we find others and through them ourselves.
And like life - it is a journey that is well worth the ride.