Raw Light With Creases
We arrive in this world with almost a clean slate. On October 22, 1977 I came into this world in the South Boston Virginia hospital. As a small child I lived in Baskerville, Virginia on my grandfather’s farm with my mother and father. My creases and indentations of what makes me who I am started to form. Throughout our journey we experience a variety of life happenings that engrain into who we are and how we might respond to the world.
The only exception is we do not get to choose the circumstances of which we are born into. We are born in a geographical location, with a financial situation, to a parent, guardian or the state to name a few. We have identities at birth that are given to us, some that we can change and others that are more difficult to change.
As we experience different phases of our life the creases amongst our canvas begin to engrain themselves into who we are. Some of these moments we experience in life are creases that are extremely deep and creep up more often than others. We may be triggered by past trauma, we may not understand why others believe differently from us because of our engrained creases.
Even though time consuming, what could we learn by asking questions and listening to other’s stories to better understand who they truly are.
Our creases are long lasting, we must understand that we view the world through the creases (our personal lens) we have experienced which can create many challenges as we try to understand others.
However, knowing the complexity of our own creases should remind us how important it is not to make assumptions about others.
How do we see past our assumptions and acknowledge other’s underlying creases?
And why is this important?
“The moment we assume we know someone’s story we destroy our capacity to understand it” - Jenna Galbut
I think it was when I reached my mid-thirties that I started to understand this more. I tend to identify myself as a daughter, mother, teacher and poet. However, there are many other creases that make me who I am today (Christian, white, female, cisgender, able bodied, 40 years old, single parent, southerner, weight lifter, educator, researcher and on and on). My creases are grounded in my social identity. What I value is at my core and as I learn from different experiences I have opportunities to choose other identities while other identities are given.
The Creative Center for Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina developed an exercise called the Social Identity Map. Individuals can reflect on their core values, given identities and chosen identities. To learn more click on the map link above.
I can only speak from my lens of the trials I faced along my journey. I am responsible for intentionally considering how my identities contribute to how I handle certain situations as well as acknowledge how my identity evolves over time.
My goal here is to provide insight regarding the importance of understanding one’s own creases to better understand other’s creases. There is so much more to another human being than our first interaction with someone. Typically, when we meet someone we will assume who we believe them to be in the first 5-7 seconds of meeting them. When we do this we begin to create a wall and we begin to make assumptions about who believe they are.
What would happen if we caught ourselves making assumptions and said to ourselves, “you know this person in front of me is so much more than what I am assuming.”
We also hide our creases from others, not wanting anyone to see the rawness of who we really are.
Hmmmm...if we could get a little vulnerable and let others in a bit more we may have greater understanding of one another during times of difficult dialogue, conflict or controversy.
So for today’s post let us reflect on the following questions for how to see the raw light with creases (the light in others and understand their journey):
How do we see past our assumptions and acknowledge the underlying creases in others?
How do we listen with intent to understand others?
How do we learn to not listen with the intent to reply?
How do we choose understanding a different story from our own before quickly responding with a bitter reply?
We continue to be divided as a country on a plethora of societal problems. I ask us to reflect on how we might respond if we intentionally consider the complexity of our individual creases.
I leave this post with a creative piece I wrote a while back when I became frustrated with how we as a society tend to make assumptions and tend to listen with an intent to reply:
A slip of the lip exits so abruptly into the space we share
Lines written out in spaces that can never be taken back
Words can bring on hurt in a split second due to the absence of an open ear and heart
Words can trigger our minds and hearts differently
As we share sides, are we listening to one another or throwing out words of perception
Can we pause and think about others feelings knowing we use a different lens
How is it that we find ourselves in this space of discomfort?
We listen for what we believe the story should be
When instead we should listen to understand more about what formed the way we believe
Creases from life experiences that frame who we are, are difficult to change
Born here, down the street, or across the ocean
We are influenced by all of those around us
It is when we open our heart to understand others that we begin to understand the creases buried deep
We choose to listen to outlets without being accountable to learn more and take responsibility
We are all blank pieces of paper that arrive in this world with little to no scars but predetermined circumstances
Only to be crumpled and creased by life's experiences
Being laughed at, being told what to believe, being informed that in this life there is only one way
Instead of learning and taking pieces of others to better ourself
How do we listen to someone's story and respect their creases even if they are different from our own
These creases are a blessing and a curse to us all
Our strength as human beings is to identify our own creases of heartache and celebration
While intently listening to the stories of others to know their pain and joy
It is not about us versus them, it is that we will need love in our hearts
We need to respect one another's beliefs
And encourage one another to challenge and support each other through kindness, understanding and action
We are many...us humans, which makes these creases have large numbers and so much power
But no matter the number of creases we bare we are the ones accountable to one another to see them and share them openly
We need the strength to empower each of us to engage in civil conversation from a place of love
We, us humans must have faith however we can to get through this beautiful ridiculous world we live in.
I do believe it is our true test.
The deep creases we bare hold the truth to what is really being asked of us, may we come from a place of compassion and understand it's okay to have differing views and to meet in a place where we can be vulnerable to share our truth.
Will we show that we understand this task that is asked of us in this beautiful universe
Or will we crumble and defeat one another because we believe our creases are better than others.
Let us be hopeful, let us have faith, let us work together and let us understand that we are all trying to make it through this life.
Let us be thoughtful with how each of us approach these times of divisiveness.
May we come together and speak with civility in intimate spaces face to face, to intently listen, find understanding and create action in a place of togetherness
With peace in our hearts let our light shine with kindness, may we come together with an open heart and not from a place of bitterness.