I was in a workshop over the weekend and the teacher led us in an exercise that still stays with me.
“Write down what you did on a typical day. It could be yesterday or a day last week and include the simplest things like making scrambled eggs or looking out the window.”
After we did that she said, “Now think of all of the people who couldn’t have done any of those things. Peel away the layers and get past the obvious. How are your activities exclusionary?”
What came next was mind-opening. Classmates brought up people with Parkinson’s who couldn’t write a text, those who didn’t have a car couldn’t drive to the market, a homeless person couldn’t wash the kitchen floor, a mother with small children couldn’t go to the gym if it didn’t have childcare, a blind person couldn’t watch the sunset, a deaf person couldn’t hear a coyote howling, an immigrant who arrived here with nothing couldn’t make fried eggs and toast on their stove, a post-surgical patient couldn’t attend a business meeting, an elderly person on a dwindling income and declining health couldn’t see his children in another city, a person in a developing country might not have access to clean drinking water, a soldier with PTSD might not be able to enjoy a full night sleep. The list went on and on with each person bringing in an awareness of other’s living situations for the purpose of opening us up to feel beyond our personal lives.
How about you? Can you think of others (without guilt) but with an awareness of how their lives differ from yours?