Meet me midway.
“CONTACT CONTACT CONTACT!”— that’s what my acting teacher used to yell at our class. “CONTACT. It’s all you’ve got. Use it. Use what’s in front of you. Engage with what’s in front of you. Let it bring you to life. Allow the other person to deepen your experience of this moment.”
Living is about experiencing, but real living is more than just experiencing; it’s about becoming intimate with life, and the way to truly become intimate with life is through contact with the world; that is, with other beings.
Awakening means arriving here and penetrating this moment with your full attention and intention.
In acting class we use this diagram that’s the shape of a circle: CONTACT- EXPERIENCE- BEHAVIOR- and back to CONTACT. Meaning that experience begins with contact with another person/place/thing, which then allows you to have an experience, and as a result of this experience, behavior is created. In other words, having contact with another person gives you an experience, which produces behavior and sets the stage for more contact to happen and a deeper experience to take place.
When you focus your attention on what’s before you, then you are able to leave yourself alone and give yourself the opportunity to experience something new; you allow the other person to amaze you. When you stop looking over yourself and begin to really see others and really listen, then something shifts within you and you can feel a depth/magic/thrill that takes place; a sense of real life.
Life stops being interesting when we wrap ourselves in our own shit blanket and block the world out. It’s a choice we make, as actors in scenes (and as people living our lives), whether to stay drowned in our own emotional pool, or to become present and available for the other person. When we want to close off and shut down, that is the exact moment when we have to make a conscious effort to to put the light on the other person and open ourselves even further.
We watch over ourselves too much, we measure too much, we overthink too much. But there’s a way out of this self-involved/ stuck mind trap— the trap that keeps us in isolation— and it is by giving our full attention to what’s actually here.
The Vietnamese Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh encapsulates the notion of shunyata (emptiness) by suggesting that it means “empty of a separate self but full of everything in the cosmos.” In the light of emptiness, everything is everything else, we inter-are, everyone is responsible for everything that happens in life.
There is an interconnected vastness; an absence of duality and opposites altogether. At the heart of this is an awakening to the reality that our lives overlap and the suffering of one becomes inseparable from the suffering of others. — from the Jivamukti February Focus of the Month.
There is ultimately a coexistence, an interdependence and an inter-beingness of all things and people at every given moment.
Let’s wake up from dullness and forgetfulness. Let’s practice so that every moment in our life makes us feel more awake. Let’s practice so that every moment in our life becomes real life. Real experience. This is it. This is real life. There’s nothing else but this that we’re living right now. So wake up, and turn the switch on. Have a true experiential connection with reality.
See the other person in front of you and let your two beingness-es meet.Become aware if it’s “your thing” to either lean in too much onto another person, or to pull back and shut down. Experiment meeting that other person in the graceful point in the center.These photos took place during New York Fashion Week, thus the outfits! This is Francesca, a good old friend of mine from Perú and traveler of the world.
Photos by Sandra Arenas