We know it when we feel it. When someone takes the time to see us. Our souls connect and for that moment we feel part of something magic and bigger than we ever thought possible. Ironically, the person who takes the time to "see us" feels it too. It is as if having the courage to take the time to listen, be present and see, rewards the giver.
A few years ago, while walking to a movie in Victoria BC, I walked past a homeless man for the last time without doing something. It aches when I see people on the street. It is wrong that these human beings have to live without a roof and community around them. We all respond when loved.
It seemed crazy, but I thought I would give what I do. I am a mountain guide so the natural extension for me was to invite these people climbing and hiking. My notion seemed crazy because it appeared so far from what they really needed. But I was wrong.
I approached the local shelter in Victoria (Victoria Cool Aid Society), and after a bit of paperwork was paired with a case worker for a hike with three appreciative souls.
Something happened on our hike that changed everything for me. Chatting with one of the women while walking through the forest, I learned that she had a degree in literature and grew up in a middle class family in Ontario. My assumptions were shattered. On that hike I learned how close all of us are to the street. We all make good and bad choices and how deeply the consequences play out is entirely up to luck. What I also learned was that, although climbing and hiking seemed extraneous, they are not. Most humans need the opportunity to connect with nature, it feeds our soul. We also all need to know someone out there is willing to hold the rope while we make a few difficult moves.
The gifts of these experiences have been huge for me. These lovely people have challenges, yes. But what makes them different from others I encounter is that they are no longer pretending to be someone they are not. There is a level of authenticity that I think we can all learn from and it is steeped in powerful humility.
We are all responsible for our own journey it is true. And there are no rescues in life. However, life teaches us about pairs of opposites. Dark-light, hot-cold etc. So it is also true that we need support after we fall. The internal fight is ours but the externals don't need to be. This is a message carried by none other than J.K. Rowling, who in her integrity, has not forgotten to give credit to a system that supported her when she was down. Naturally, this fuels the question. . .how many geniuses have we failed?
My challenge to the rest of my community is this; "Give What You Do." If you are a Dentist, give what you do. If you are a Hair Stylist, give what you do. If you are a Doctor, give what you do. If you are a Counselor, give what you do. Trust me your hearts will be paid in full, and our community will prosper.