Welcome to the Human Race

by Amanda Petersen

Welcome to the human race. This is a phrase I have, for several reasons, heard quite a bit lately. What an awesome phrase! It is usually when the balance of life has been disrupted that this phrase is used. When the wrong thing is said at the wrong time. When the hot water heater leaks, floods the house and one is in an unplanned remodel. When the car breaks down and now one has to rely on others to get around. When depression or grief strikes and all the coping mechanisms have failed. When there is a shared experience and causes laughter that produces tears. When there is a beautiful sunset and everyone stops in awe. Whenever life gets out of the mind and into what is real. Welcome to the human race.

In each of these instances one can either isolate or go deep. Isolation leads to this shouldn’t be happening, why me or inside jokes that create clicks or missed beauty. Going deep or contemplating these events leads to that deep place that every human experiences, a sense of loss of place, an acknowledgment of needing others, the knowing that life is as absurd as it is beautiful and realizing all is gift.  

All of the sudden a time of unbalance expands one’s world. There is connection to all of humanity’s suffering, joy, grace and love. Until one experiences and becomes aware of the unbalanced moment, the gift of connection and empathy is just a theory. I can’t know what it is like to be a refugee and I would never pretend to know yet as I meet a refugee I can enter into the loss, the struggle and the unfamiliar of their journey. How? By remembering and opening myself up to the experiences that remind me that I am part of this bigger picture. By using times of unbalance to hear the invitation “Welcome to the Human Race.” There is a connection running deeply within all of us.  

How does one connect in this way? By choosing to practice listening deeply to life. This isn’t an innate skill, at least it isn’t for me. I have to choose to make it a priority and place myself where there are others who are practicing the same thing so that I may go out and live a life that can listen beneath the surface and connect to the challenging beauty of being connected to my fellow humans. Then I can receive the invitation of welcome to the human race.