On Connecting To Strangers
The Sidewalk Talk Blog
Yesterday I was watching Kevin Bacon talk about his hashtag #IStayHomeFor and today, my German Sister-In-Law sent me an article by Matthias Horx. My life, since moving to Germany, involves a lot of staying home. I work from home. I eat at home for all my meals. I do not have a car so leaving home must be a deliberate and intentional act. Most mornings now, I wake up, coffee in bed, and several hours of reading and pondering. Long before #IStayHomeFor was a thing in response to Covid19, it was my reality. And I am thriving in this reality.
Home is interchangeable, for me, with the word heart. “I stay in my heart for…”.
Staying “home” has allowed me to be more self-actualized, more full of a self that is not pulled so quickly into neurotics, hustling for worth, or popularity but slower, soulful, tapped into a different kind of self in community that is wider and deeper. I am getting better at saying “No that doesn’t work for me.” And “Tell me what is happening for you.”
You can imagine I show up at Sidewalk Talk differently from this place. I can feel the usual pulls to go fast, hustle, be relevant according to external standards and then home calls me back. I get a call from an organization to partner, I get self-righteously angry at more white male-led connection projects gaining traction with little awareness of gender or racial bias, or external feedback that I am not a good spokesperson for connection because I am too old, too uncool and I get grumpy and testy...I am hooked to the demands of a homeless self.
But home calls me back. “Come inside Traci. Come rest here in truth.” Maybe home has called me for years and I would hear whispers but now I am in deep dialogue every day with home. I am no longer ok with my own homelessness. I often wonder if the physical representation of our internal state, homelessness on the streets, will ever be solved if we have not come home to ourselves.
This morning, my heart insisted, again. It said “don’t get online”, “Traci make time for your inner ponder”, “Traci come home”. I read Pia Melodie, Jan Gehl, Michael Lehofer, Matthias Horx, Dick Schwartz and took notes and looked out the window, pondered, wandered, and wondered. It is a privilege to have this space. A privilege I want for everyone.
My heart is now filled, ready to write and be in community with you, here on this page. When I finish, I will go outside and run through the trees in the forest with my son, still at home, but outside my home. And then I will have dinner with my family, still at home. And then I will call a friend, still at home.
While I feel worried about the sick and our ability to societally act with leadership and community in this Covid19 pandemic, I also have to admit, this quarantine has quenched something deep in me. For years, I have longed to see heart-centered living where self and community get to dance together on a massive scale. Putting chairs on sidewalks was never about fixing or helping people or promoting therapy.
Listening on sidewalks was a protest I was waging with myself and the world.
A protest that was calling me to “value heart” “stay home” and asking the society to value home and heart with me.
My deepest longing is to have beautiful, vibrant, self-actualized people, with bountiful differences, supported by a societal infrastructure that privileges us all equally to be in community from heart. I practice a kind of therapy that is about finding one’s way home, not addressing baseline symptoms to thrive better in a broken world. Listening is the jumping-off point - it is the starting line.
Listening is the lighthouse in our homeless storm. We were never meant to get good at living cast about on an upset sea.
Often, in these circumstances, we cannot get home without someone walking us there, holding the life raft steady, as Ram Dass so lovingly says.
#IStayHomeFor #IStayInMyHeartFor a world where we all can be in community with our beautiful self-actualized selves. What are you staying home for?
I am a woman, therapist, wife, mom, friend, listener, and founder/leader of Sidewalk Talk. You can subscribe to my couples therapy list here.