For more years than I like to recount, I have trudged in and out of office buildings for meetings and business matters. Generally, these are not places one expects to find moments of Grace, but they are always there, in potential. One organization I’ve worked with has a saying that we meet with a CEO and, amazingly, he or she is a human being.
Last month I was asked by a business acquaintance to join in a meeting with a very successful financial services guy. Bill is tall and lean, early 50’s and tanned like the avid golfer he is. During his career he has managed the entire eastern U.S. sales force of a Fortune 100 company. This is not where I expected to find a piece of perennial wisdom.
The first meeting went well with some mutual interest in what we could perhaps offer each other from our perspective disciplines. There might be some worthwhile synergy to pursue. Two weeks later we met again, alone in his office with a window that frames the entire skyline of Charlotte. As we talked he asked if I’d read Albom’s book. Yes, I had, I replied. He also wrote Tuesdays with Morrie which is similar in some ways to meetings with my mentor years ago.*
He began talking about human nature and the resistance we form to various things over time in our lives. Through the impact of the teaching we receive and life experience, our nature is forged and hardened, for good or for ill. Some of us even resist and argue against the things we know would serve us well (recognize that one?).
What we forget he said is Albom’s admonition that, “The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.” I was surprised and touched that Bill would say this in this setting. It is not typically in the repetoire of my business associates. This wisdom is something I’ve come to learn, in part. I’ve adopted a technique that helps me remember.
In the dark hours of the night, if I find my fantasy going to a dark or worrisome place, I go to my breath. I inhale consciously to a count of 3 and then release over a count of 5, for a total count of 8. As the breath comes in, I gradually let go enough that it can flow deep into my diaphragm. There I imagine that my small “s” self, connects with my eternal Self.
In that moment of connection I realize that I am not alone, ever. While it may seem naive to imagine such things, it’s not a matter of the intellect. It’s a matter of our emotional being, our spirit, the part of us that, like it or not, exists beyond the bounds of these bodies. When I’m able to make this connection of self to Self, I know that I am never alone.