The world is our classroom. What are you learning? Do you see the world through compassionate eyes or eyes filled with judgment?
I know I have looked through both lenses, and I am trying to choose compassionate eyes as I look for the lessons my experiences are offering.
I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Nashville for a conference and here are a few things I saw that gave meaning to my trip.
The first person I met in Nashville was our taxi driver. He was friendly, helpful, energetic, and knowledgeable about the great city of Nashville. He told my co-worker and I he had immigrated to the United States from Somalia and he loved Nashville. He said driving a taxi was his second job. He worked full-time during the week and drove taxi on the weekends to help pay for his daughter to go to college. She wants to be an engineer. Considering our national conversation, I will forever think of him when I think about immigrants from Somalia moving to the United States.
We immediately saw homeless people, which is always heartbreaking to me. Someone told me research has shown, homeless people often feel less than human so I always try and make eye contact and say hi. Nobody should feel less then human. Our driver told us many of the homeless people are veterans and the City of Nashville had given some of them jobs selling newspapers. I met a homeless man who said he had served our great country. I will forever wonder if the reason someone is homeless is perhaps they served in the armed forces and didn’t have the resources and support they needed when they returned?
The creative energy in Nashville is inspiring! There is music everywhere. Because I have been studying creativity and writing, it hit me how brave every one of these musicians are. They put themselves out there night after night in the hope of fulfilling their dreams. I hope they feel they already are. Most of the musicians have other jobs to support themselves and sing for free at the bars and nightclubs in Nashville. They get paid a little bit when they pass a bucket around for cash from the crowd. I had the opportunity to speak to more than one singer who was extremely talented. One woman was walking through the crowd with the bucket accepting tips, and I told her she was so brave and to keep singing! She told me, “I have been doing this for five years and I am scared to death every time!” I will never take for granted how brave it is for people to put themselves out in the world as a creator. For every singer, writer, actor, dancer, comedian or anyone out there creating art, there are thousands of others too scared to try.
I attended a reception and was offered the opportunity to go to the Grand Ole Opry because a group I had just met had an extra ticket! Because of that experience, I am a new fan of Mo Pittney. He spoke from his heart about finding God after a tough road, and sang a song straight from his soul to mine. I encourage you to look him up. He is someone using his God given talent to inspire the world. He certainly inspired me.
A perfect conference for me is when I get practical advice combined with inspiration. The Argentum conference did not disappoint. There was a speaker, Derreck Kayongo, a refugee from Uganda who is now the CEO of the Center for Civil and Human Rights and founder of the Global Soap Project, a project that recycles soap to send to countries in which soap and infection control education is in short supply. What an inspiration he is! His talk, which was no accident for me to hear was titled, “Harness the Power of Observation.” When he was a young boy he witnessed the cruelty of human beings at their worst. He watched people get shot in front of his own eyes. He used his pain to lessen the pain of others, not inflict more of it.
I had the blessing of meeting a kindred spirit on the plane ride home who spent time as an actress in Hollywood, only to discover that industry was too harsh for her. She wanted to find her true calling and has recently completed her degree in Spiritual Psychology, as she struggles with poor health because of complications from Lyme’s Disease. She has a service dog/soul mate to help her navigate her life. What an inspiring person and conversation we had!
I arrived home to my co-worker who has immigrated here from Nepal. She is an amazing spirit, who cares passionately about social justice, animals, and seniors. The United States is so lucky to have her in our country and I am personally a better person because I know her.
I have learned so much from each of these interactions and when my eyes look with compassion, I see so much more than when I look with judgment.
The world is our classroom, and I try not to discount any encounter as meaningless. There are amazing opportunities to learn everywhere and for that I am so grateful.
I am curious to know, what are you learning? What are you seeing?