Not long ago, I met with someone I hadn't seen in person for over a year. We used to see one another daily. When I left that setting, I had hoped that many of people with whom I interacted, and for whom I cared a great deal, would stay in touch. I made sure everyone had my email address and my phone number, and let them all know I'd welcome communication. I have not heard from most of them since.
My conclusion has been that once I was out of sight, I was out of mind. I've given a nod to the fact that the pandemic has stretched us all beyond the edges of our coping mechanisms, that just taking care of our jobs and our immediate loved ones has been all we could do. Underneath the pragmatism, though, was a quiet, self-insulting assumption.
My friend is still in that setting. One of the things she mentioned is how distant she feels from the coworkers she used to chat with before "work from home" became the norm, how hard she has worked to maintain connections, and how most of her efforts have not brought the results for which she hoped. That's when the lightbulb went on for me.
My feelings of isolation and disconnection aren't just me!
I've read other social media posts and news articles about how the pandemic has left us all feeling isolated from one another, but somehow I didn't feel my own experience as part of the greater whole ... until I did. What opened my awareness was hearing my friend speak express feelings that I thought were mine alone.
That is the power of story.
That is why I am working with Story Circle.
Without the conversation with my friend, my own story about being forgotten would have continued circling in my head, and increasing my sense of abandonment. My friend's story helped me realize I wasn't the only one ... and it actually changed the story I am telling myself. No longer is it about my worth. Now it's about how all of us are staggering under the load created by a global health crisis magnified by the climate crisis intensified by societal upheavals. It's about being willing to be the first one to say, "I miss you. Can we reconnect?"
Story Circle is my offering into the world, an invitation to explore the narratives that follow well-worn paths in our thoughts. It is also about hearing the stories of others in the safe container of our Circle, and recognizing that even though our experiences vary, we are not alone. As the the mystic Ram Das has said, "we are walking each other home".
My next Story Circle gathering will begin in February 2022. Please sign up here if you'd like to be informed when the dates are confirmed. I'd love to see you there!