To say that this week has emotionally charged would be a massive understatement. It is hard to even find the words to adequately synthesize it all.
For many people, the American spirit was bruised by this whole election, culminating in the election results on Tuesday. And the wounds are deep. The notion that we had to once again expose all of the hatred, greed, ignorance and ambivalence in order to heal it seems like another band-aid statement on not only a decades-long struggle, but a centuries-long struggle. The oppression of one group of people by another is not new to the United States, nor new to the world. It’s just beyond disappointing, hurtful, and maddening that it’s still so rampant across our country. We continue to be obsessed with being against “other”. Humans by nature are what I call high assimilators, meaning part of the core of their quest for validation is to consciously or subconsciously seek out people like themselves. That can be in mindset, interests, religious views, physical appearance, profession, etc. What allows for true brotherly love, however, is when we not only accept people that are different from ourselves, through whatever lens we may by viewing them, but when we joyfully celebrate and love those differences as part of what makes the collective human experience a beautiful thing.
I think so many of us, myself included, just didn’t think that we’d not only continue to promote this divisiveness, but promote it all the way up to the highest office in our country. And furthermore that we would completely abdicate the notion that qualifications, knowledge, experience, and humility actually matter. We just rewarded bad behavior with ultimate power, electing a reality television personality as president of our country because it was entertaining. All in the name of “change”. Some say that many presidential candidates run on the notion of change, and that is true. Barack Obama did it quite successfully; the massive difference being that his campaigns were not cloaked in the divisive rhetoric of hate, but rather in the positive rhetoric of unity. It’s embarrassing to me that we’re going from a president of such integrity to someone with such lack of integrity. The Republican party used to stand for something decent; they often use the term “family values”. And yet, here we are — with someone who in no way personifies traditional Republican values, let alone just plain values of human decency. This isn’t a partisan issue for Democrats — it’s a humanitarian issue.
The only real way forward is for the light to outshine the darkness. So we’ll nurse our wounds, heal ourselves and others by coming together as we have so many times before, and focus on how to make it better. I do believe that this is all part of a huge catalyst of change that is happening, not only in the United States, but globally. Martha Beck talks about it at length, along with Byron Katie, and a host of other sage spiritual guides in our midst, so if you’re looking for comfort at this time, it would be wise to seek out their work.
Tuesday would turn out to be a double-whammy of heartbreak for me, the second part of which I would not know until Thursday. I received a Facebook friend request from someone I met in Africa, and when I saw it, I knew something was wrong. And then I saw the news of the death of one of his friends and colleagues, someone that I had met and to whom I was immediately connected as a fellow awakened being on this planet. My heart broke to see his beautiful photo with the message that he has passed away, the doors of my mind slamming shut at the challenge to absorb such difficult news. Emmanuel was someone who just lit up the world around him, along with his friend Godfrey. There are so many people that I met in Africa that had this intangible quality of a joyous spirit, and these two were no exception. It was a blessing to have my final time in Africa be with them, as it made that safari, one that I had dreamt of taking my whole life, that much more special.
Emma, as his friends called him, seem to have a wisdom beyond his 32 years, and beyond his life experiences. He had a kind manner and gentle spirit, and had an inner drive that kept him motivated toward his life goals. Given where I was in my own life journey when our paths crossed earlier this year, I appreciated these gifts, and was grateful to meet another kindred spirit during this key part of my life. Sometimes we don’t know why we meet the people that we do, yet if we are fully awake and open in our own hearts, we realize that all connection has value, whether that is between people with other people, people with animals and nature, or simply with your own inner being. I was meant to meet this person, and he would remind me the importance of staying centered, without trying, just by being him. It also reminded me that it doesn’t matter how long we’ve know someone, they can have a significant impact on our lives, and that was true of this person. While my time in his light was very brief, and I wasn’t sure that our paths would ever cross in person again, I had comfort knowing this person was on the planet, and in sharing the occasional message with each other from across the globe. Staying in touch also kept my safari adventure tangible, the gift he gave me was to make it still accessible through his experiences, sometimes sending me photos of the amazing animals and landscape. I never thought that his light would go out so suddenly and so soon.
Between these two events, each one personal for much different reasons, it’s been a really tough week. I don’t normally get lonely or depressed — it’s not my normal state of being. Yet this week my heart has cracked wide open, all of my cells blistered with a deep sadness that I know I need to process to get to the other side. And I know I will, it’s just tough right now. While many can understand the heartbreak over our current political and cultural landscape, perhaps it seems strange that I would also be so affected by such a brief friendship with someone on the other side of the globe that I was likely never to see again. The only way I can explain is that anyone who had witnessed Emmanuel’s light would understand the sadness of knowing it’s no longer shining here on Earth. He was simply a beautiful person in every way. And I will miss being able to chat with him, hearing about his life, his plans for the future, and the beauty of Tanzania and the Serengeti, as we shared a love of that magical place. Africa and its people had this effect on me more so than anywhere else I’ve traveled this past year — it’s just a place like no other.
I will never forget his joyous heart and his light. It was a gift, and I was beyond blessed to be witness to it, even for the briefest of moments.