Since graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I have engaged in opportunities to keep learning in the past year. While I have slowed down with book reading – I have been listening to opinion pieces, podcasts, commentaries, and even different questions on prevalent social issues.
One of the habits I have consciously cultivated is asking people for their perspectives of things. I am not necessarily asking for what they believe, think is true, or right, but simply how they see something that I am seeing. Whether the topic relates to conflict, religion, a social cause like feminism, or an imminent social issue like the canceling culture, as usual, I extend the grace that what people think can change and doesn’t always define who they are. I also allow for a safe space in the conversations where it is my responsibility to establish such an agreement. With these practices, rather than judging people for their thoughts, I thank them for their honesty and vulnerability.
Often, we think a thought is a finished process when it comes out of people’s mouths, and we forget that we simultaneously think as we talk even when we have had practice. So, when people say something, rather than reacting with judgment, I respond with “let’s discuss that,” or I ask critical questions as simple as “well, why do you think that?” I also sometimes paraphrase what they say to ensure that I understand them clearly and they have communicated effectively. In conversations and, most importantly, listening to others, I find that it is easy to fall into a space of judgment, and worse, this new cancel culture to conclude “you’re a bad person because you said x y and z that I disagree with.” It is not our fault; it’s just how our mind is wired to make instinctive conclusions for safety and compartmentalize things. However, we do better when we train our instincts, from thoughts to actions.
Perspectives are important and affect our relationship with the world, the conclusion of our lives, and connections with people who matter or matter less to us. I will share a couple of things that I am learning from this issue and where this started from.
More than half the time, we are not who we want to be for ourselves. There is always more that we want to change, fix, and become of and for ourselves and sometimes, for those we love.
There is always a way for us to be better and become, which is the importance and meaningfulness of life. Even those who live for "the now" linger on because there is a hope of formation, transformation, and maintenance at the least - granting themselves grace through the process.
So how come we become so entitled and unforgiving about someone else not being who we want them to be for us, let alone who they want to be for themselves? How come we can't grant the same grace we have for ourselves to others in making? How come we see ourselves with kindness and can't offer the same civility to someone else?
(A Nonfiction and Book Review)
Semicolon: The World Won't Stop
“How is it that the world keeps going, breathing in and out unchanged, while in my soul there is a permanent scattering.” (Page 12)
– Chimamanda Adichie (Notes on Grief)
We were writing when I explained the function of a semi-colon to a mentee. I say, “It is like a life is ending but someone or something has to continue. Like everything stopped but there is everything left.” This is what grief feels like.
While combing through central park, I tell a friend that the cruel thing about death for me isn’t how everything stops but how everything must continue. And the continuation isn’t so much as a lack of love, but it is just the way the world is built.
With a peal of blue sarcastic laughter, I said that even the person who calls you the light of their world will look to the sun as a compromise to keep going. The person who says they can’t breathe without you will realize that grief doesn’t make breathing an option to your nostrils and lungs. It encapsulates life and just shoves itself past what feels like a clog in your nostrils, a choking block in your throat and a knot in your chest as you mourn.
I remember when Chadwick Boseman died on August 28, 2020 – it was as if God took something from all of us. The mourning and outpour of gratitude, social media posts, and quotes laced with the love I hope he equally felt when he was alive was a different type of grief. When Chimamanda Adichie’s father passed away, it felt the same way for many. In a more recent conversation with another friend, I shared that it is funny how someone you don’t know so well dies, and you can feel the shattering, but someone you also know can die, and there is nothing to feel.
Only a few meaningful people to the deceased truly feel the shattering. In in this book, Chimamanda feels an undeniable shattering which she shares through the courage and sanity she can muster.