It was the first night of Whole Being Weekend, a spiritual retreat of hugging, eye gazing, singing, dancing and connecting with other beautiful souls. A band was on stage, some were lost in ecstatic, playful dance; others deep in mediation. This first night was about getting people relaxed and connected. The music shifted to an upbeat tempo and an announcer asked us to find a partner. The room burst into a flurry of people rushing to pair up.
As people swarmed around me snatching up their partners, I followed their lead and happily grabbed the first person I could. We playfully danced with that person for a moment and then were told to “find a new partner!”. Again, the room exploded with a frantic scramble of people delighted to find their next match.
But I was slow to part with my first partner because we shared a warm hug upon parting. As I scanned the room, most people were paired up. But one man was lingering on the fringe… clearly available to be chosen, but was awkwardly waiting. Maybe he was shy, or simply hesitant. Perhaps he felt like the new kid on the first day of school in a new country. He seemed painfully aware that he had yet paired up.
I made a mad dash to him, darting around pairs and jumping over cushions before landing before him with delightful eyes. I didn’t say anything, but everything in how I arrived conveyed the intended message. I CHOOSE YOU.
I wanted him to feel integrated, to feel valued, to feel like he belonged here. I didn’t pair up with him because he was the last man standing; I grabbed him because I saw a man who deeply needed to be reminded that he mattered. That he was worth choosing.
For the rest of the weekend, I made a point to make a mad dash towards the person standing at the fringe, the ones who looked like they weren’t sure they would ever be chosen. And during our minute together, whether it was dancing, singing, or eye gazing, I sought to embrace each person with complete gratitude, delight and unconditional love.
The ones who get chosen last might just be shy. But there might be something broken within them that makes them hesitant to connect. They might question their desirability, their appeal, their worthiness. I know the pain and awkwardness of being unchosen; the last one standing, the new girl, the only one raising their hand when asked, “Who doesn’t have a partner?”.
In Being Less Horrible to Others, I challenged myself to find something beautiful in everyone who passed by me – and it tremendously changed how I see people – and what I see in them.
It is so incredibly easy to pass over people as we seek out those who we deem most desirable. But the ones we want may not be the best ones for us. Sometimes the very thing you don’t want is your greatest teacher.
That weekend, the man who had yet to be chosen became an invaluable teacher for me. He reminded me of the tremendous power we hold in how we interact with others through small acts.
Choosing him with such delight may seem like a small act. But sometimes small acts have huge impacts (positive or negative!). Which is exactly why I’m learning that doing the small things with kindness and warmth matter so very much.