When we are around others who have similar beliefs and interests we have the opportunity to experience a magical value of life called “shared reality”. Your soul revels in the practically palpable feeling of joy springing from the serene sense of connection that accompanies it. For me shared reality proves our interconnectedness and explains why we are so drawn to one another. If you break down the word, shared is used as an adjective meaning “to have in common” and reality is used to mean “all of your experiences that determine how things appear to you.” In this big world with plenty of people, perspectives, and preferences, it is quite priceless when you come across another traveler that you feel kindred with, like there is a spark in your souls that originated from the same fire.
(click on collage for a closer/clearer view)
I, myself feel connection with a lot of very diverse people and I am drawn to them for different reasons based on how I live out my values, my personal priorities, experiences I’ve had, art I enjoy, ideas I resonate with, etc. Each connection is related to a part of me, although not one could ever come close to capturing the full essence of me and all my complexity. I am grateful for how this allows me to feel close to so many people and celebrate diversity.
I want to take a moment to honor shared reality and celebrate the camaraderie I feel with many of my fellow human beings. So I made a list of some of my shared realities: I feel connected to people who love trees, fellow bookworms, folks into simple living, funky freaks who love live music, drivers who aren’t fond of traffic, families into alternative education, anyone who enjoys massages, the open minded, thrifty shoppers, dancers willing to be the first ones on the floor, humans who yell at their electronics, Unitarian Universalists, people who respect holistic health, sunset appreciators, ravers, hippies, recyclers, my sisters and brothers who stand up for equality and freedom, highly sensitive people, ocean lovers, fans of Harry Potter, people who have seen the movie Dirty Dancing as many times as I have, people who struggle with food addiction, single parents, all parents, people who use re-usable water bottles, those who appreciate organized spaces, souls healing from shame and guilt, vegetarians, fans who root for the teams I like, ping pong players, people who practice nonviolent communication, all people who are passionate about Peace… I could go on and on and on. I imagine we could all make a list like this..of ideas, art, and passions that we are drawn towards, and experiences, circumstances, and struggles we have lived through.
Isn’t it comforting to think that you are not alone, that there are other people out there who are drawn to the same things and have had at least somewhat similar experiences as you have had? I think it is and I guess my hope in sharing this is to encourage a celebration of that connection. I really believe that we can all find something to connect over and feel a sense of shared reality with everyone else on the planet. If we tried to only have people in our lives that had identical lists I think we would be completely alone and utterly miserable. Fortunately, we have the choice to celebrate the kinship we feel when among those with similar interests, and honor the connection it nurtures. And also acknowledge the compassion and consideration it engenders for the differences that we will inevitably also experience.
I hope you took the time to celebrate some of your own experiences of shared reality. Sadly we often miss these opportunities, I’ve learned this in many challenging ways. Here is one rather ridiculous example. I have felt a sense of disconnection (and righteousness, which is hard to admit) when I witness people not utilizing the availability of reusable water bottles. After the initial shock of difference and then the judgment about something that is really important to me, buying as little plastic packaging as possible, I eventually mourned when I realized I was allowing one difference to cloud over probably countless parallels. I feel confident that I have many correlations and shared realities with lots of people who regularly drink bottled water, but I could have missed out on celebrating and connecting with them because of one difference. Pretty silly, huh?
I try and really take the time to celebrate these feelings of shared reality when they arise, helps keep my heart happy and in working order. Last year I heard about an eighth-grader named Julia Bluhm who started a petition on Change.org which ended up actually encouraging Seventeen Magazine to commit to not using airbrushed images of their models! I imagine that Julia and I both do not appreciate it when people’s images are manipulated to encourage certain ideals of beauty, and that we both value truth and being real. I have a feeling we are both concerned that not everyone believes they are beautiful because they compare themselves to other people and decide that they are less attractive/worthy. And maybe we both desire to protect the self-worth of our younger generations so that they don’t need anyone to tell them they are beautiful, because they are already assured of it! I celebrate this connection and am also choosing (and re-choosing) to cease condemning those who are in favor of air brushing and just mourn that I don’t feel a sense of shared reality with them on this issue. Fortunately I can use my expanded awareness to allow me to appreciate that it is only one issue, and that there are other issues we likely would agree on that could help us feel united. And really, there are probably countless opinions about perceiving beauty and ideas about how to appreciate and celebrate it. It is naive to think we will ever all be in agreement.
My hope is that we can be realistic. We will not experience shared reality with the majority of people on Earth on the majority of aspects of human life. However, this is actually to our immense benefit because it pushes us to embrace our potential to live out our shared human values of love, acceptance, consideration, and compassion. If we all agreed on everything, we would miss out on the experience and growth that living out these vital human values provides for our souls’ evolution.
I also hope that we can work towards one “blanket” kind of shared reality to keep us all warm, snuggly, and safe. I would call this, “A Shared Reality of Love,” which I imagine to to be centered on our mutual desire to create a world grounded in peace and acceptance. If I were to weave the fabric for our blanket, some of the essential fibers I would include would be nonviolence, honesty, judgment free observations and communication that is considerate and compassionate. Do you think, if given the option, enough people could agree to participate in a Shared Reality of Love? No expectations for perfection, only encouraging striving to keep trying!