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The On Being Project

Pushing Through Our Trepidation

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“Last night, someone asked if I liked being alone. ‘It depends,’ I said. ‘Sometimes I’m my best friend. Sometimes I’m my worst enemy. We’ll see who shows up.'”

On a retreat at a cabin in the northern woods of Wisconsin, Parker Palmer journaled for a week. Thankfully, he strings together these pearls of contemplation on silence and solitude for us. With the help of Thomas Merton and Rumi, he finds a strange catharsis in being forced to reckon with one’s angels and demons.

Being around people can be an anxiety-inducing, if not mentally draining experience, for some. But, how can we manage this trepidation and move forward? Alexandra Elle — an Instagram maestro — reflects on having the courage to show up and interact when it feels next to impossible:

“I am a woman who deals with a phobia that forces me to put up barriers and walls without my consent. I am a woman who has to talk to people and has to show up for a living, even when she feels like she just can’t. I’m a woman who has been living with social anxiety since before she can remember. It’s not easy. But I’m getting there.”

The act of running reveals. Christina Torres, an avid marathoner who didn’t come to running naturally, realizes that her physical training is also a spiritual exercise — a moving meditation and a way to find God in unexpected, sacred places.

“Running was not the zen, silent space I imagined I could meditate in. With my feet pounding and arms pumping, how was I finding inner calm? Then, I realized God had been meeting me with moving meditation for years.”

Both Christina Torres and Alexandra Elle sent their guest submissions unsolicited. We honor their voices, and we’re interesting in elevating your voice too. Take a chance and send us your best work.

“While my oldest friends know who I’ve been, my new friends help me understand who I’m becoming.”

The most romantic relationships just may be our platonic friendships. But, as we age, it gets more difficult to establish new friendships with those of the same sex. Courtney Martin celebrates the inimitable joy of platonic courtship and female attachment.

On Thursday, February 11th, the band Cloud Cult will visit our Loring Park studios. Their music is imbued with spirituality and hope while they explore loss, grief, and love through family and community. Join us for a night of intimate conversation infused with music. Yes, the event is free and open to the public, but please RSVP to get a seat!

“What you give, write it down in sand. What you receive, carve it in rock.”

When I first heard Henryk Górecki’s Third Symphony, I played it over and over for three days at work and at home. Sadly, he passed not long ago; thankfully, the Polish composer had one more left in him, even if he couldn’t see it through to the end. Well worth a listen!

Cats in mosques gone social? The imam of an Istanbul mosque recently opened his doors to the neighborhood’s homeless felines, sparking a flurry on social media. Beyond the adorable cat videos, our columnist Omid Safi finds learning on the meaning of true human kindness, and celebrates love extended beyond the borders of kinship, community, and species.

“So long as the urge to shelter that cat remains, something of humanity remains in us. So long as we scatter seeds on the snow for the birds, we remain worthy of the name human.”

Thank you for all the kind and critical feedback this past week. It’s much appreciated! As always, please feel free to contact me at [email protected], or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.
May the wind always be at your back.

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