This first appeared in China’s Ningbo Guide Magazine in January 2015 in a monthly column called Just Jinx.
Gestation is important to each of us, for we are repeatedly granted the process of developing new life and birthing it into the world. May each of you rebirth yourselves and may each of you ponder what it is that you hold dear. You are dear to me. – Jinx
Hold your vulnerability dear. Claim the invincible vulnerability of the human heart. Dismiss any teachings that vulnerability is weakness. Vulnerability is your strength. Everything will not go your way, nor should it do so. It is when life wrestles with you and tells us that we must learn a lesson that we mature, and seldom before. We cannot evolve into our potential when we remain frustrated and defensive. Connection is why we are here and in order to feel connected we must be excruciatingly vulnerable. Without claiming our vulnerability we cannot feel our own worthiness. Do not medicate your vulnerability. Researcher Dr. Brene Brown says that “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper or meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” Vulnerability is where courage and fear meet.
Hold engagement in life dear. Commit to sustaining your attention and effort to something, whether it is work, raising children, a creative endeavor, assisting the marginalized, or a relationship. Use your own personal skills, crafts, strengths, passion, and interests to lead the way. Commit to a relationship with someone or something. It is the engagement and continued effort to affirm, trust, problem solve, forgive and respect that enhances each of us and sustains our worthiness by allowing us to recognize our strengths and pursue our goals.
Hold a child dear. You do not have to be a parent, teacher, or coach. Children are everywhere. Learn to leap tall buildings for a child- any child, anywhere. Children are wise. They sense all that we deny. Offer them a sense of safety even in the midst of danger. They know the danger and are the first to experience human wrong. Commit to helping one child know that not all is wrong in the world. Help a child desire to understand and feel effective in the social world.
Hold laughter dear. Release the endorphins that make you feel better and change your body chemistry. Laughter spans all ages, cultures, and languages. Laugh with strangers, with lovers, with everyone. Laughter creates connection and fosters intimacy. Risk it. Risk it repeatedly.
Hold assisting someone dear. In many parts of the world, an 18-year-old can graduate from high school without ever having had to do a piece of work on which somebody else truly depended. There are too many of us who live without ever having cared for, or even held, a baby; without ever having looked after someone who was old, ill, or lonely; or without ever having comforted or assisted another human being who really needed help. No culture can long sustain itself unless its member has learned the sensitivities, motivations, and skills involved in assisting and caring for other human beings.
Hold leaky margins dear. As cultures are becoming more permeable, the deep culture of our own interior space is rising up to give us perhaps more access to the possibilities both within and without ourselves. Have leaky margins and honor a sense of connectedness and interdependence with others. Broaden your ego boundaries so that other people can be experienced as part of the self.
Hold responsibility dear. Responsibility is when you are aware of others and aware of their feelings. Responsibility is taking charge of yourself by looking at others around you and seeing what they need and seeing what you need…and taking the initiative. Responsibility is seeing one’s daily actions within a larger social context and owning that one’s actions have social and political implications. Live in ways that are consistent with your values.
Hold gratitude dear. Expressing gratitude for something or someone positive in our lives erodes the ability for us to take things for granted. Be aware and appreciate all that is valuable and meaningful in your life. To take food, shelter, love, friends, family, and work for granted simply means you walk with blinders. Take nothing and no one for granted. Learn to bow to all.
Hold the arts dear. The minutiae of existence, the micro-narrative, can drown out the voices of the past and future- the memories and echoes of what humans hold dear. The arts, culture, and the world of ideas allow us to hear those voices loudly again. They allow us to hear once more who it is we are and what we dream of doing and all that we have suffered through in our attempt to live. Make some form of the arts your pursuit and your favorite pastime. With every book, play, performance piece, sculpture or painting there is a conversation. Inviting the arts into your life takes you on a journey with others. Art is always made together.
Hold equality dear. “No person, I think, ever saw a herd of buffalo, of which a few were fat and the great majority lean. No person ever saw a flock of birds, of which two or three were swimming in grease and the others all skin and bone.” –Henry George, American political economist (1839-1897). We are different from each other and that is the way it should be. Yet the economic, civic, and health dangers are apparent with the world’s growing inequality. We pay a high price for massive inequality. The fundamental issue is whether we fight each other for access to basic necessities or whether we recognize each other’s needs and share access. Each day find some small way to find room at your table. Share.
Hold freedom dear. Life is a risk we’re incredibly fortunate to experience. Freedom without action does not exist. Freedom is the experience of a desire being acknowledged, chosen, and pursued. Desire concerns the changing of something. Desire is wanting. Freedom does not constitute the fulfillment of that wanting, but the acknowledgment of its supremacy. Choose what you want carefully and assist others in their pursuits.