Let’s face it. Sometimes it can feel like we are under constant assault. A steady stream of people with unsolicited opinions of who you are, what you should be doing, how you should feel, think, vote, or believe. You’re too far left, you’re too far right, you’re too in the middle. You’re too thin, or too fat, too pretty or too ugly. We get good at shaking off the haters, pulling the drawstrings of our hoodies and focusing straight ahead, building up walls of protection around our minds, hearts, and bodies.
We develop a sense of humor, making everything a joke so we can keep the world at arms distance. This distance gives us a perspective, yes, but it also alienates us and makes us feel more alone. The walls get taller, and we lock the gates, looking down on the world from a place of isolation and safety.
Then something happens. We start to notice that the interior is becoming weak- the beautiful spirit we built these walls to protect becomes dark, shrivelled up, and twisted. Before long, we no longer feel like the king or queen of the castle; we become prisoners.
What then? The solution is scary, because it involves a deal of risk. But it is the only way out. You have to let people in. That’s it. Throw open the gates, bust the locks, break down the walls, and let them in. Even the people you don’t like. Even the people who disagree with you. Even the people who’ve hurt you, and especially the people you’ve hurt.
If you do this, something amazing can start to happen. The people you let in will begin to let their own defenses down. Maybe not at first, and maybe not everyone. Maybe some people you let in will fail to accept such an extraordinary gift, but most will. And they’ll let others into their space. That is the only way we will heal. As people and a society.
And by no means is this an easy feat. I have practiced this for years, and yet I still shut down my heart, close it off from those who love me and those who don’t in equal measure. Dozens of times, on a daily basis. It’s the story of human history, and it will continue to be a struggle for as long as mankind exists. Open-heartedness, connection, sharing – these qualities move us from merely existing to truly living.
The poet William Blake once said, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.” If we let down our defenses, tear down our walls, and remove the barriers that keep us separate from each other, we step into infinite love. The rubble of the walls that were broken become seats at a massive banquet where all are welcome, everything is understood, and all is forgiven.
We aren’t there yet. But the work is there waiting for us. Step into your vulnerability. Look people in the eye with openness. Smile. Connect.
That’s how you Let. People. In.
Actors in the video: Mason Trueblood and Cece Paige