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Let's Go Find It Together...

Hi there everyone!!

I’ve just completed a weekend with one of the most inclusive communities I’ve ever experienced – The Contact Improv Regional Jam!

When I acknowledged one of the organizers with this realization, he asked me if I could be more specific. So here is one such example.

During Sunday night’s dance, my water bottles ran out of water, and I was getting really thirsty from my exhaustive moves. I asked my friend, Alex, “Do you know if there’s a water fountain nearby?”

From the Mundane to the Profound

One of my friends, Jordon, thought that this subject matter is obvious and he understands the lessons already.  He didn't want a sermon, and didn't want to be told what to do.

I assert that sometimes the obvious isn't obvious.  Common sense is not common.  As another friend, Sarah, said, "Some people need to be hit over the head to get it".

I don't want to hit you over head.  Consider that a master does the same fundamentals as a novice, only with extreme precision, gracious flow, and impeccable execution.  More importantly, the master does this without conscious effort, in the realm of unconscious competence.

You may already understand a lesson, and are capable of understanding it at a much deeper and substantial level.

Alex’s Answer Became the Genesis of this Article.

Telling you what the five words Alex spoke to the question "Do you know if there's a water fountain nearby?" may sound obvious and simple. So, let me take you step-by-step, to really get the deeper meaning and significance of his compassionate words. You may skip to the end, but may miss some valuable lessons.

How Hard Could It Be?

ver the years, some people have responded to my challenges of not being able to find things, places, r eople with this remark: “Just ask somebody – How Hard Can That Be?”

In many situations (like being lost in the suburbs), there is nobody for miles around. That can be hard.

Imagine someone visually impaired, trying to just locate a moving body. Keep in mind that that body may be in a hurry, on their cell phone, listening to music, or simply lost in their own thoughts. All of these visual signals would be lost on me.

Now imagine not having the ability to make eye contact with anybody. How would you know if you have someone’s attention? In this culture, grabbing somebody or touching them, could be considered hostile. In dense urban areas, there may be so much traffic or background noise, that audio communication is neither effective, nor even considered an option (like a loud night club).

Empathy is a gateway to compassion. People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. When we help people in difficult situations, our energy reflects this phenomenon.

Take Risks, and Ask Anyways

I wrote an article called “The Power of an Authentic Request”, so I understand the nuances of being approachable, being clear, being concise, and being compelling. And there are many good people in the world, who either authentically consider, or authentically accept requests from strangers.

As you may know from your own experience, many people ignore strangers altogether. Even our culture teaches, “Don’t talk to strangers”.

What if that stranger looks really different or is acting in a peculiar way? I can understand why people wouldn’t want to talk to a blind albino, especially if they had never seen an albino in their life before (or may not have ever seen a picture of one).

Be a stranger talker, and have a relationship with a stranger.

Sometimes, I Am Met with Anger

What can be worse than being ignored? Being ridiculed, laughed at, cursed at, verbally assaulted, or concerned for my safety.

This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen from time to time. At some level, I do understand it now.

I am sometimes (without knowing it) invading people’s space. They don’t understand that I can’t see, and they see me as being confrontational first.

For example, one time I went up to a couple to ask them for directions. They seemed really upset. Then, I noticed cameras all around me. I had accidentally walked onto a movie set and disturbed the filming. I guess that costs people money, too.

In retrospect, I realize that there have been times when what I've been asking for was right in front of me.  People thought I was either crazy, or trying to be funny.

Sometimes, I’m Given Inaccurate, Unclear or Incomplete Information

In people’s haste to get rid of me (or quickly solve the problem), they guess, or tell me what they “think” is true. Perhaps what they think they know, just isn’t so?

Are people’s heart really in the right place? Receiving inaccurate information can cost hours of time and frustration. Of course, I try to course-correct by asking other people. Nevertheless, there have been times where I have been sent back-and-forth over the same territory because of conflicting information.

In some situations, people use their fingers and say “over there” or “that way”. I explain that I cannot see, but they just don’t understand. They continue, “just behind that huge building!”

My favorite phrase is “you can’t miss it”, because then I know I’m going to miss it.

Strategies of Deference

In other attempts to be helpful, some people defer the problem. For example, they direct me to another person I need to find.  But I can’t locate them (or that person doesn’t exist).

In some situations, people will defer by time. They will ask me to wait five minutes or so before they can help me. Unfortunately, most of the time, five minutes becomes twenty-five minutes. Or worse, the person forgets about me, and leaves me without notice.

And still, some will defer the importance of the request and blame me for having the challenge. In the case of requesting water, possible responses would be, “don’t worry—you don’t need any water right now!”, or “why don’t you carry more water with you?”

Meeting the Need vs. Getting into My World

I believe that compassion isn’t just about accommodation. It’s about integration. That is, nobody wins unless we all win. And getting my needs met is not winning—it’s merely surviving.

Winning is having our needs met, with dignity, in an inclusive and enjoyable way. Giving accurate and clear information upon a request, is compassionate. And here’s how to go even further, tiny-step by tiny-step.

Consider: “Let Me Get It for You”

This is going one step beyond solving the problem. It is taking responsibility for the problem.

At the same time, the statement infers a relationship dynamic that is subordinate. While it is great to have things done for us, it may leave us feeling helpless in the long run.

If Alex brought water for me, I still wouldn’t know where the water fountain is. If I needed more water in the future, I would be reliant on making a similar request again.

Ponder: “Let Me Help You Get It”

This response is so beautiful. To be nit-picky, this phrase has the connotation that help and support is needed.

And yes, in many cases that is a true statement—there is a need being met with support. However, there is another layer of communication I found to be even more comforting…

Alex said (drum roll): “Let’s Go Find It Together…”

Wow. Do you see how this statement is making us equal partners on a noble journey?

It’s so co-operative, collaborative and co-creative! It is giving BOTH of us the shared responsibility. It is honoring all parties as contributing members of the team.

More than that, the power is in the tone of the words spoken. Alex said “Let’s go find it together…” with enthusiasm. There was a sense that he would enjoy this journey with me. In fact, he may even learn from the adventure through my unique perspective.

Alex made the solution fun. That was the most refreshing splash of water that has ever quenched my thirst!

It's Your Choice

I don’t expect everyone to live in this vibration all the time—that’s not practical. However, being aware of all the intricate possibilities of compassion, will give us more openings to choose to be there more often.

What’s available to you now, is the possibility of touching somebody’s life in such a way that they feel the embrace of humanity.

Extending the Metaphor

I've been sharing my life experiences around visual impairment.  These intricacies of compassion can be generalized to any disabilities, and can be applied to anybody at all.

What If a child is lost in a busy mall with no parents or guardians in sight?  We could inform security.  Or we could say have a quick conversation and check-in with the child.  If our perception was correct, then we could say, "Let's go find them together..."

Perhaps an elderly person with mobility issues is looking for an elevator or ramp.  Don't just give them directions.  Try, "Let's go find it together..."

It's not about the magical five words.  You'll have to do some work by being present, understanding the context, and generating what works for you.

If somebody needs to eat at a vegetarian restaurant and is making an inquiry, it may sound a little creepy to say, "Let's go find it together..."  Best case scenario, you'll make a new friend.

BONUS: The Lessons Continue

I shared these intricacies of compassion with my friend, Jeanette.  She asserted that Alex’s words may have been incidental, because he needed water for himself, and he was just killing two birds with one stone. That could be, though it wouldn’t take away from his compassion.

When we did find the water fountain, I noticed it first. That may not have happened if Alex was just “helping me”. I got a great sense of empowerment by finding the water fountain with Alex.

Before I started drinking the water, Alex asked, “Are you OK to get back on your own?”

I knew then that Alex didn’t need any water. But more importantly, Alex wasn’t being a caretaker: There was a great dance he was missing, and he valued his dance time as much as he understood that I probably had the capacity to make it back to the dancefloor on my own.

The Ripple Effect

Alex’s five words made such an impact, that it spawned several conversations around this subject of compassion and inclusion.

His words also birthed this article, which you are now reading. You now have the opportunity to continue this ripple of compassion into your own circles of influence.

Oh, How Easy Can It Be!

With an inclusive atmosphere like the Contact Improvisation Community, it’s easy for someone to ask for assistance. In the outside world, I hope you now understand how hard it can be.

Now, realize that’s life is not binary, but rather a spectrum of possibilities. Everything in between happens. Where in the spectrum will you play?

In contrast to many corporate cultures, inclusion isn’t about meeting arbitrary accessibility standards. Rather, it is about taking a sincere interest by creating a personal connection with a human being—honoring needs, preferences, and requests.  (Honoring doesn't necessarily mean accepting.)

Go take a field trip and exercise your depths of compassion.

May We Have This Dance?

Alex facilities a monthly dance jam called Chemistry in Motion. You are welcome to join the both of us at our next event to experience contact improvisational dance, and the energy of an inclusive community.

Let’s love the world together…

[)anish /|hmed, blind visionary

P.S. Isn’t it note-worthy to notice that “Let’s go find it together…” has a similar linguistic structure as my motto, “Let’s love the world together…”?

More Mouth-Watering Cocktails to Quench Your Humanitarian Thirst:
Helping People in Difficult Situations
Making Difficult Conversations Easy
Helping People with Disabilities {everybody}
Dance is Personal Development

This post first appeared on Ordinary Words, please read the originial post: here

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