Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.
~ Leonard Cohen
It has been a week of losses; grief and sadness felt and shared by many. It seems fitting that it’s raining lightly on my walk this morning. I’m on my way to the ocean, as I do every morning, to walk beside the water. I’ve brought an umbrella, but because the cool rain on my head and face feels so soothing, I don’t use it all. The ocean is calm and looks still, but I’ve recently learned that under the surface is an amazing ocean migration. This is the largest migration on earth, as billions of sea creatures ascend to the surface of the ocean every night from as deep as 2 km, and descend back again at dawn – another rhythm, like tides, like breathing, like seasons, like the patterns of life everywhere.
Long and long has the grass been growing,
Long and long has the rain been falling,
Long has the globe been rolling around.
~ Walt Whitman
There is a small, but regular community of people who also seek out the seaside in the early morning. We smile and greet each other even though we usually maintain our own quiet company as we walk and run and play with dogs and commune with this beautiful place. This week, amidst the US election, the death of Leonard Cohen, and Remembrance Day, there is a feeling of sadness, and a greater warmth and gentleness among my seaside friends. We hold each other’s eyes a bit longer, smile more warmly, and linger in the company of one another, as people often do in the midst of loss. We are bringing our kindness and compassion to the surface, to the light, where it wants to be.
There are times when we are reminded of our capacity for connection with others. While there are many influences on whether, and with whom we connect, our mirror neurons are the biology behind this capacity. When we see someone smile, or cry, or feel pain, our brains respond as if we, ourselves, are smiling, or crying, or feeling pain. We are hard wired for empathy and connected to one another through our neurons. Our mirror neurons provide the capacity for us to effortlessly understand and feel the experience of others. As Rick Hanson says, ‘we are not this body apart from the world’. We are intricately connected to everything.
We are all connected, to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, to the rest of the universe atomically.
~ Neil deGrasse Tyson.
This week I have found such comfort in my connections – to my loved ones, my friends, the many people who comprise the human landscape of my day, and as always, the moon, the stars, the sea, the forest, the wild places and all their living things, and the billions of sea creatures on their vertical ocean journeys.
I’ve seen the nations rise and fall,
I’ve heard their stories, heard them all,
But love’s the only engine of survival.
~ Leonard Cohen
Sending love to you all, dear ones.
This film, Ocean Magic at Night, documents the nightly ocean migration.
In this TED talk, The Neurons that Shaped Civilization, neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran outlines the fascinating functions of mirror neurons.