Many people have asked me WHY I was driven to do my project, The Silver Savior; going around in my Airstream and interviewing folks for the last eight weeks. There are many reasons why, but Somewhere on the Pennsylvania turnpike the core of love overcame me. Truly. I had just left a campground where a complete stranger offered to share his dinner with me as I had gotten in late, and now I’m barreling down the highway, nothing but a thin yellow line of trust protecting me from head on traffic. I began to reflect on all the help and love on the road during my trip. The sun was setting into what I call that “juicy light”. In that moment, I was suddenly overtaken with emotion, where literally everything was colliding with a serene feeling of contentedness. Driven to tears of joy, I thought I was going to have to pull over. It was then that I realized why this trip was so important to me.
This feeling, this experience of strangers taking me in, their kindness, compassion and support, more than some family members, was restoring my faith in the human race. That people are still really good.
Have you ever had that emotion where suddenly you realize you are all part of the whole, everything and everyone, and all you can feel is the gratitude to be alive? Not perfect, nothing ever is, but complete contentedness of your life with all its bruises and beatings? And then the beauty of being one with all overwhelms the heart?
I make Wearable Shrines of Intention because I believe now, more than ever we need to live with intention, love and kindness. In a world seemingly gone mad, massive anxiety everywhere you turn, wars ongoing, I was literally taken to my knees by the kindness of humans. Before I left on this trip, I too was asking myself, when did people become so awful to each other and tribal; their nuclear family and no one else? Despite some bad apples in the world, I can say from my experience that LOVE binds us humans together. That we need to BELONG. That we don’t have to do it all on our own. That we are love. Even when we fail at it sometimes. Maybe especially when we fail at it.
Traveling reminded me that we are a huge planet of immigrants, migrating to where we feel love and belonging. In fact, my great grandparents came into Ellis Island with nothing but the clothes on their backs. I bet most of yours came from somewhere else too. Now, I wonder about them…Were they helped by a random stranger to find their way? Shelter? Food? Belonging? Did they know that they didn’t have to do it on their own? That they were loved and supported?
Flash forward to last week. I’m in the campground in my home town waiting to get back into my house. It’s getting dark and cold, just about to snow. I see a young man with a huge back pack and a sign that just says, “NORTH”. I say hello and find out he’s twenty-two, from France, just off the plane from Denver and has nowhere to camp for the night, hitchhiking his way to Rocky Mountain National Park. Before this trip, I would have probably said hello, made small talk and then on my way. Now, I felt his need, and said, “let’s find you a place to pitch your tent”. After we found him a camping spot, I asked him if he had food. It was very dark at this point. He said he was okay, but needed to know where a store was in the morning to buy something to eat. It was then I realized he was not okay. I invited him in for dinner and pulled another piece of salmon out. We proceeded to have the most amazing conversations about life, love and the state of our planet, him lapping up every drop of food, plate looking like it was just washed. The next morning, we said our goodbyes at a coffee shop and I watched him walk away, someone’s son dearly missed in France.
I tell you this because there will never be anything more fulfilling than making a difference in someone else’s life. I will start by being good to at least one other person every single day. It is those little acts of compassion as simple as sitting down with someone and sharing a meal that will save us. He might have thought I was a saint to him, but he really was my true North, like his sign read. To feel needed is dopamine stronger than any drug. And…it is the way out of this mental health crisis. With every decision, we can choose to go toward bitterness or love. May you choose LOVE.
I wish you safe. I wish you peace. I wish you radical love.
Nancy + Team Sweet Bird