The most despicable thing humans have done is associate the word “mundane” with a human life. The notion that a life could be mundane. Insane.
In high school I remember being asked what made me saddest. I answered, “the unfulfilled life”. The notion that a life could be unfulfilled. Insane.
In Psychology class I remember learning about the stages of life. Studying old age, senior citizens, reflecting on life and asking “What was the point of my existence?” We learned depression is common in this stage of life. My professor apologized for the depressing lecture. I wondered why it was depressing. The notion that a life could be pointless. Insane.
I recently attended a yoga workshop where we were asked to find a partner, share a mat, sit comfortably, and look into each others eyes. This exercise is not uncomfortable for me, but I know it is for others, so I act shifty-eyed for a few moments before settling my gaze. It took me about a minute, looking into this woman’s eyes, to feel the full weight of her pain. Silently staring, I could feel that this last year had been a tough one for her. I could feel her relationship troubles. I could feel the absence of a child, one had moved away, possibly for college.
As I was tearing up, carrying this woman’s pain, I could also feel the love, the warmth in this woman’s life. She had wonderful relatives, or perhaps friends, that had helped her through this year. She had found solace in yoga. And, in this moment, she had found solace, escape, in my gaze. I found strength within myself, I did not want to cry, I wanted her to be able to keep this escape in my eyes.
As we were instructed out of this practice, the woman pulled away, and cried. We gave each other a prolonged hug, and she whispered “I’m sorry” to me.
I reflected on how I wish I could have that moment with every human I encounter. I wish I could take five minutes to look in their eyes, know their story, feel the depth of their humanity and be completely encompassed in their experiences. Imagine if we all could.
I recently read Lena Dunham’s novel Not That Kind of Girl, where she claims the bravest thing we can do is claim our story is one that needs to be told. I would comment, later, that in her storytelling Dunham has mastered the art of making the mundane magnificent. Though I love her storytelling, I was incorrect.
Every life is a novel, in each human experience there is a story that needs to be told.
Each path, each experience so unique yet in our humanity we are so impossibly alike. Imagine if we could read the life novel of every acquaintance, every human we encounter on a daily basis. Sharing the common human experiences, the love, the loss, with the people who surround us. Understanding the life choices, personal relationships, social experiences, that have led this person to the encounter you are currently having with them.
If every life was a novel we could read, how would this change the way we interact?
Written by Trisha Kretzer