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I see you. I am here.

I see you.  I am here.

This morning I sipped my coffee and attempted to read the newspaper.  I say attempted because I can’t seem to get through it.  I have to stop often reading mid- sentence because I get so irritated and feel so hopeless about all the challenges facing our country and world. 

Pages and pages of articles reporting the indisputable facts about many urgent challenges we face, yet our politicians can’t seem to agree on any action to take. This morning I closed the paper, sat back, and slowly closed my eyes. I focused on my coffee’s nutty aroma and felt the cup’s heat in my hand.  My breath slowed, and my heartbeat did too.  

I stopped to breathe because if I continued to read, I knew I’d be in a different space. One that isn’t helpful. I’d most likely read those articles while holding my breath as fear slithers in and upsets my morning moment of calm. If I continue to read or listen to the news on the radio, I feel the opposite of hope – I feel despondent and hopeless. I get angry and disappointed that we can’t seem to come together to do what humans do best – use our ingenuity and creativity and our ability to have compassion for each other so we can create solutions and act on them in a hopeful way. 

I don’t understand how we’ve become so separate from one another – so insulated from understanding what someone else is going through. So focused on our individual needs and forgetting that we are in this together.   

It scares me, and I’ve been pondering for a long time what can be done to bring us closer together. What can I do?

This was on my mind as I went along with my day this morning. While cleaning up my desk, I  came across a slip of paper on which I hastily scribbled an African greeting. I probably had read or heard it somewhere. I often write little things down on little pieces of paper only to “discover” them at the right moment when the message on them is most appropriate.

This was yet another of those perfect moments.

On that yellow sticky note, it said:  I see you. I am here—an African Greeting.

I see you.

I am here.

I see you.

I am here.

I kept repeating it as if it were a mantra.

I ask you: How might our life be different if we all greeted each other with this sentiment?

Isn’t that what we all need most? To be seen? To not feel alone?

It feels like such a simple thing.

Yet, how many people have you been with today and haven’t seen?  Haven’t let them know you were here with them? I know I’ve already been on a few zoom calls seeing colleagues in the small “Brady Bunch” style boxes on my computer screen. I saw a family in a car next to me as I stopped at a light and even more people shopping all around me in the grocery store. 

You’d think we can’t help but see them. Yet, I am convinced we don’t really. If we did, we might have more compassion for one another. We might be more patient with the person on the other end of the phone when we call to complain that we were overcharged on our credit card, recognizing that it’s not their fault they can’t issue the credit until it is investigated. Perhaps the woman I saw in the grocery store moving a bit too slowly for me just found out a family member is seriously ill. We don’t know each other’s stories, and we shouldn’t have to.

How might it be different if we said:   I see you.  I am here.

Maybe it would help get us a bit closer together.

Maybe just knowing that we are seen and aren’t alone, we might take a step closer.

I’ve decided that this is one thing I can do.

I see you.

I am here.

6 thoughts on “I see you. I am here.”

  1. Laurie, nice piece!
    I am reminded of my journey in becoming an elder in this world. My mentor taught that an important part of being an elder is to let people know that they are indeed seen, that their journey is being witnessed by someone. I make it a practice to say to folks at key moments: “I see you!”. It’s amazing how it literally lifts someone.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Laurie Riedman

      Thanks so much for reading Pegeen and taking time to share that you are! Glad this resonated.

    1. Vanessa Paccone Brown

      I just finished writing a nice long comment. Very, very long and very wonderful. And then somehow it got lost, in the ethers, in some cloud.
      FNA! I’m seriously bummed, quite frustrated.
      I guess I’ll just say…

      You teach me
      Keep writing your stories
      I am here
      I know you see me too


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