Ball of Orange Yarn

The Truth About Love is Hiding in Plain Sight.

A head-and-shoulders picture of Andrew Chirch with water in the background

I’m Andrew Chirch, an Interfaith advisor and coach. 99 is a special weekly podcast series where we meet for 9 minutes to regroup, re-center ourselves, and prepare for the work ahead. Subscribe here to listen on your favorite podcast app, or you can use the player at the top of this post. A transcript is below.

Many spend their lives striving for something, not knowing exactly what or why. Today, let’s explore both of those things: the what and the why.
This series, 99, is a project of Prolificate. Prolificate is where I write, podcast, and talk about people that help leave the world a better place.
This episode of 99 is in honor of Jodi over at Legal Nomads. For those of you who don’t know about Legal Nomads, you should. Jodi is an amazing writer, seeker, and community-builder whose health took a difficult turn. I’m not sharing anything out of turn – she’s been very public about her health challenges. I’m inspired by how Jodi isn’t hiding her situation, instead she’s chosen to share her journey with her community.
I bring this up because today’s topic is the secret that is hiding in plain sight. Do you ever find yourself longing for something, but you don’t know what? Or how about your motivation to keep going when things get difficult? Where does that come from?
Maybe you know the answer instantly. If you do, I invite you to go a little deeper, like peeling back layers of an onion. Try to go beyond the obvious and ask yourself the next question, “but why?”
If you don’t know what causes that longing – or even if there is a longing. If you don’t know why you strive,  I’m right there with you too. We’re looking for hidden treasure today.
If you can do so safely, I invite you to relax your focus or close your eyes and find your breath. Tune in to this plain, ordinary thing… the fact that every few seconds, you breathe in and then out without thinking about it. Notice how in between breaths…. after you exhale, but before your next breath, there is a space. Put your attention there. Continue to breathe and notice that space between breaths.
Think about how everyone who has ever lived has this. The people you know and love, the people who make you angry, the ones who will cross your path only once — all share this experience. After they breathe out, and before they breathe in, there is a moment where it doesn’t have to continue. It’s as if there’s a decision-point or reaffirmation of life every few seconds. After all, in infancy, there is a moment before we’ve taken that very first breath. We are in that space. When we die, we breathe out, and we don’t breathe in again. We remain in that space. Everywhere in between those two events, life is renewed in a cycle.
Notice how you are connected in this way to everything around you.
Coming back now.
Why is it that from the moment we are born, we are in connection with others, and yet from that moment we spend so much energy resisting that connection?
I am a big fan of time alone. As an introvert, I enjoy people, but after being around them, I need to recharge by myself. Even though this is the case, I do like meaningful connection. In fact, one of my favorite icebreaking exercises with a new group goes like this.
The first person starts by holding a ball of red yarn. They introduce themselves, and share something brief, then wrap the yarn around their wrist and pass the ball to someone else. The process repeats until everyone has had a turn. By the end of the exercise, the room is full of people connected by a web.  It’s this beautiful and visceral illustration of how we are all connected. Any time someone in the group moves, everyone else can feel it – it’s as if the web of string is alive, tugging gently this way and that.
At the end of the exercise, you can cut the string and have each person tie a piece around their wrist to wear as a reminder of this connection.
Imagine doing this for every human on the face of the planet. Using  the largest ball of string ever created. What would that feel like? I imagine a web almost humming with information – maybe it would even vibrate like a guitar string! Music!
My friend, my heart is singing at the thought of this.
The longing I feel… what there really is an invisible string of sorts that connecst us?  Treasure hidden in plain sight.
What if some of my own discomfort and suffering is caused by my resistance to that tugging?
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying it’s easy to tune in and feel that connection… When given a choice between traveling coach – where I can really experience my connectedness to others, or first class, where that connectedness looks a little different… I know which I would choose.
Still, though, I wonder if Jodi at knows something about the secret. As this episode is being recorded, Jodi has been leading weekly meditation sessions for people from anywhere in the world. You should tune in. Wrap your hand around the red string she’s offering.
Could the yearning you feel – your deepest longing – be for human connection?