The best and most effective way we do this is through relationships. People think of marriage as a fusing of sorts, a uniting of two people into a whole; I say that is not unique to the marriage relationship in the least. When we connect with another human being we are fused for life, whether we ever see each other again physically (or these days, virtually) or not. Relationships change us immediately and irrevocably. Once I have met you, I can never again experience anything in the world as if I had not, and the longer the relationship lasts, the more and more and more I include you. I am no longer myself without you. You have become a filter through which I see the world, so I can never see the world the exact same way again.Consider your parents; this is an obvious choice, as you actually are a fusion of them and you have internalized them in both a literal and figurative embodiment. But who among us does not carry the voices of our parents (or whoever raised us) around in our heads ALL the time? So many of our choices have been guided by them, both consciously and unconsciously. I know people who seem to have lived their whole lives as a reaction AGAINST their parents, and I know people who have lived their whole lives as homage to them. Parents are with us in every moment, as they are the people who, well…PROGRAMMED us, for lack of a better word. Hopefully in mostly good ways. They taught us to walk, talk, tie our shoelaces, ride our bikes; they engendered a love of reading or sports or nature or maybe all of the above. They are as much a part of us as water is part of the ocean. We are swirled together forever.
Now think about your friends…the musician you reference when you listen to a song, the doctor you call when you are sure you have a tumor, the teacher whose stories make you feel so much, much better about your own kids. Or not. But whoever they are, and whatever they do, they play into how you think, how you approach the world, how you perceive different situations. The unique perspective they have shared with you has transformed your own; you can never eat a salad without thinking about what your gardener buddy has told you about pesticides or growing heirloom tomatoes. Every time you read a book a friend recommended, you read it with them; why did they like it? What clues to their personality are hidden in the story? Every time you go to a restaurant you went to with your chums, you are there with them again…every time you drive down his street, hear that song or remember her story. We carry our loved ones around with us all the time.They say white is the color we see when all colors on the spectrum are present simultaneously; I say this is a good definition of God. When all things are present simultaneously, the slate is completely clean. When we include all things, we know God. And that is what our relationships are for, even (and possibly especially) our challenging ones. As we incorporate more and more and more of others into ourselves, we become more and more and more inclusive…closer to the entire spectrum, closer to God. Even your cantankerous old uncle with the appalling political beliefs (or religious beliefs, or prejudices) that you have to kiss on the cheek every Thanksgiving is bringing you closer to knowing wholeness. We are all necessary, we are all in this together and we are all helping each other every minute of every day whether we are trying (or want to) or not. So keep on loving (or hating) every single person you meet. That feeling you have for them means you are carrying them with you. You are becoming more complete. But wonderfully, you will never be finished. Because someone and something new awaits you around each and every corner.