Tim Berners-Lee, the person credited with outlining the principles of the World Wide Web, is widely reported to have said he didn’t expect so many pictures of cats. But reportedly, he also said he didn’t expect people to be so open about personal things on the internet.
I was referring a friend to the work of Sherwin Nuland, when I listened to the opening of his conversation with Krista Tippett of On Being, talking about the death of his grandmother and his celebrated book How We Die.
The more personal you are willing to be and the more intimate you are willing to be about the details of your own life, the more universal you are.
When you recognize that pain and response to pain is a universal thing, it helps explain so many things about others, just as it explains so much about yourself. It teaches you forbearance. It teaches you a moderation in your responses to other people’s behavior. It teaches you a sort of understanding. It essentially tells you what everybody needs. You know what everybody needs? You want to put it in a single word? Everybody needs to be understood. And out of that comes every form of love.
This may be counterintuitive, but I think it is true. Today, my church celebrated 20 years as a congregation which has welcomed LGBTQ people. Congregants told their stories, which I think teach us an openness to all lifestyles, ways and forms (with apologies to the Beastie Boys). It teaches about ourselves, the ways in which we need to move, and the forbearance we need to express to ourselves about not moving there quickly enough. Yoga is about change, but it also is about discovering the Truth that is already present.