” We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere.” ~
I’m currently reading a book by Leo Buscaglia called “Personhood.”. I had this book for quite a while but never got around to reading it until now. I still have much more to read but I love the whole concept of the book. It’s not a philosophy or political book or even really a psychology book. It’s a personal development book about living up to our full potential, loving and connecting with others.
Dr. Buscaglia explains how no matter how different we are than each other or no matter how similar we are to one another we can connect with each other through our basic humanness. We don’t have to have very similar life experiences or relate or identify with each other in very significant ways to deeply connect with each other.
We are similar in very basic ways. We are alive. We all have a story and all experience pleasure and pain and have needs and desires.
I have always loved people and often feel deeply connected with others whether I know them well or not. I have so much gratitude & appreciation for the lives of others.
Recently I was with my mom, dad, and little sister in my dad’s mini van and we were driving in Center City, Philadelphia at night and there were lots of people walking, standing, sitting….around the city.
Some were homeless and dirty, dressed in rags, some were dressed warmly and smiling, talking on cell phones, waiting for busses, giggling with one another, some looked sad and distraught while others appeared to be happy and carefree. Some were alone, some in groups. I noticed short people and tall people, young and old, men and women,Asian, African American, Latino, Caucasian…
Some spoke languages other than English. One pretty young lady with long blonde hair who was with a man was laughing wildly like she had no care in the world. They were smiling and genuinely joyous. I couldn’t help but stare, maybe to the point of rudeness. They looked perfect together standing beneath the city lights at night laughing with wild abandon. I had no choice but to smile myself. They were speaking a language I couldn’t understand.
Then they started walking towards my sister and me as we stood on the street corner waiting for my dad and mom to come for us. We went to a bookstore and there were no parking spaces so my dad had to drive around the block til we came out.
When the girl got close to me she smiled , looked directly at me and said “Bonjour soeur.”. And continued walking.
I can only speak English and I wasn’t completely sure what she said to me but in high school I took an Italian class and some days conversations of other languages came up including conversations about the French language.
I got an idea the girl said “hello sister” in French to me. So I looked it up on Google translate on my phone and discovered that is in fact what she said.
It warmed my heart. I couldn’t understand her language but I certainly understood her smile, her laugh, her beauty, and the spark in her eyes, her need to reach me…
And she saw something in me that inspired her to reach out with a warm & friendly greeting.
So we had the language barrier but that doesn’t prevent human connection.
We all speak different languages, have different cultures, different experiences, different skin colors, and ethnicities, sexual orientations, nationalities, political views, religions, opinions, and many other differences but our smiles, laughs, love, beauty, and basic humanness connect the same.
As I was looking at each person I asked myself “Is it weird to love every person I look at, to feel a strong sense of gratitude for the lives of people I don’t know and will probably never know and never see again?”.
It may be weird to some people but weird or not, it’s what I often feel. I don’t know those people but I know they are someone. They bring a light to this world. They all have a name, a face, a life, a breath, a story, a dream. They have a heart and they experience pleasure and pain, desires, and needs.
We may have sharp differences and experiences, opposing views, disagreements but we are not very different underneath.
Leo Buscaglia, in his book, describes some very brief experiences where he met someone who he could only connect with through their basic humanness. Because of language/culture barriers or because of dramatically different life experiences, these people he encountered were only able to connect with him through being living humans but still the connection is deep, satisfying, and rewarding.
He describes a woman he saw one hot afternoon while he was in southern India. She was in a faded sari and walking. He noticed she seemed strong and erect and determined. She had a large, heavy water pot balanced on her head. There was no sign of where she has been or where she was going.
He writes this: “She paused for a moment and our eyes met. We knew each other.”
Not a word was spoken, yet these two people connected deeply.
He writes of the “beautiful, toothless old farmer in Nepal” who allowed him to stay overnight in his house with all of his family and animals. Leo Buscaglia writes,
“Conversation, beyond sign language, a smile, eye contact, a touch, was impossible.”
This farmer had no idea where the USA is, never spoke to a Western person, and never traveled in a car. He never heard of history, knew nothing of politics, and knew nothing at all beyond his village life. But Dr. Buscaglia writes,
“Still, for an evening we were brought warmly together. When the time for parting came, feeling that we would probably never meet again, we walked arm and arm to the village’s end and wept. We are still together.”
He writes of the young anxious business man who helped him find his way in Tokyo when he was lost, the Brooklyn, NY teenager who told him that he helped him create his purpose, the Kindergarten child who he laughed with in a lunchroom.
Dr. Buscaglia writes this about his experiences,
“For these few brief seconds of our encounters, I was and still am that Indian woman, that Nepalese farmer, that Japanese businessman, that New York student, that Kindergarten child. We were all one in the same thing, humanness. When our minds could not meet, our hearts were the common bond. When our speech was a mystery, it was solved by our eyes and arms.”
“Some moved in technological wonder, others in primitive magic ; some rested in material opulence, others in the greatest simplicity and even desperate poverty; some were equipped with strong formal educations, others simply used their natural mental endowments, enriched by experienced. But, whatever, they all had a strong common tie – their humanness, their deep need to survive, to realize their experience, to love and be loved, to overcome loneliness and isolation, to use their creative endeavors, to make things more comfortable and beautiful for themselves and their loved ones, to attempt to understand their world and their part in it.”
“Each of these people were the history of all people, but all were also a part of the unique history which only their lives would write….”
Isn’t this beautiful?!? We are all connected. I am you. You are me. In so many ways.
The homeless people you see, the financially struggling, the rich people, the ones you feel are way out of your league, the ones you feel that you are above in some ways, the “losers,” the “saints,” the lucky ones, the unfortunate ones, the people who seem to have it all, the ones who have next to nothing, we are all each other.
Some of the most deepest connections, conversations, experiences I have known, have been with random strangers or people I just met, on the busses, in hospitals, walking the streets..
I am very shy but very open to people.
If ever you feel lonely and isolated, remember there’s a whole world full of people. Ones who will walk with you for a while, embrace you, make eye contact with you, listen to your story….
“Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you.” ~ Rumi