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Another way to expand your own repertoire of thought patternings is to talk it over with a friend.  Be curious.  Empathize.  Check out another person’s beliefs and viewpoints to see what’s under there.  Perhaps there will be new information and perspectives that make more sense to you than the thinks you usually think.

If nothing else, you will at least get a good conversation going with someone and, perhaps, make some sort of connection between you.

One important skill is learning how to sit in silence and learning how to be with someone who is hurting.  Even though it feels awful when you’re going through it, stepping into another person’s hard and just being a witness can be the greatest gift you can offer in situations when there’s nothing that your Inner Fixer can do.

This video is a story recorded at a Moth Community Showcase on September 20, 2016 at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City.  The theme for the night was Global Stories of Women and Girls.  Sisonke Msimang is a writer and activist who has been published in the New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, and a range of other international publications.  She is the Program Director at the Centre for Stories in Perth, Australia.

The thing about this way of being a friend is that it does take time, often a lot of time.  In order to walk in someone else’s world, you need to be available to do it.

Maui Sunrise - Kahului Airport

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a tendency to go beyond the superficial social niceties to true connection.  [Since there are few people who are willing to invest the enormous amount of effort, time and energy that’s needed to develop real intimacy, this tends to limit your inner circle to a few brave souls.  This is fine.  It is probably all you can handle anyhow.  Finding even one such friend is a treasure many people apparently never find.]

This poem is one I sent to a woman I greatly admired.  When we first met she was going through a confusing time, one of those periods of growth that takes you over in the aftermath of a traumatic experience.  It was causing her extreme distress and anguish.

The woman felt her world was falling apart and she was calling for help in every way she knew how.  The way she moved pushed away the help she wanted, and I was moved by her plight.

I sent her this poem and she was grateful that somebody had heard her cries for help.  We became fast  friends over time, hugging each other warm through a very bad time for her.  All I offered her were my ears and my smiles and my hugs.  I sat with her and let her find her own footing.  And she added so much joy and learning to my life I still smile when I see her face in my memory.

We were friends for only a few years before her unexpected death.  She had already lived a long and varied life and I like to think that together we explored and tinkered and made some very good things.


I cannot do it.

I just can’t.

How can I share my sadness for you

When your fierce self-sorrow

Drowns out my timid compassion

In a woe-is-me mantra bigger than the sky?


I am sorry.

Yes, I am.

But I’m not strong enough

To lose myself again, sinking ‘neath

The painful tide of tears

Flowing from your sad eyes.


Joy, I wish you.

I wish you peace.

May you be free from all of this suffering.

But, what are my wishes – paltry things –

(Or the wishes of all your friends)

Against the tsunami of your pain?


I have been there.

Yes, I’ve done that.

Drowned the nascent sun rising in my eyes,

Clutched my pain like a worn teddy bear,

Rocking myself to numbness at the bottom

Of that lake of tears.


Time will pass.

Distance happens.

You’ll still hurt, but the pain will ease.

The sun will rise again in your eyes.

Maybe then your ears will open.

Maybe then the wishes will come real.

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Connections by Matthew Montgomery via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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