I just returned from a week in Colombia, South America, where I spoke on ideas related to this book. But from the second day, I realized that I was to learn more from the people I met there than I could possibly teach them.
After living the last 13 years in the United States, I am used to the emotional closedness, stiffness, and coldness that we take for granted as normal. The people I met in Colombia — Colombians, Chileans, Peruvians, Brazilians, and others — were different. They were emotionally open, warm, and expressive of love. There was lots of hugging and kissing — and they meant it! People touch each other more and they stand closer together in conversation. Often I felt that for these people, every day is a celebration of life.
There I was, speaking on Separation and its healing to people who are much less “separated” than I am. I think that as our own, American, culture approaches a dead end of loneliness, community breakdown, and alienation, we might need the help of other less broken cultures to help us find our way back. That was certainly the case for me. The love I experienced there from so many people was a kind of medicine. It reminded me, on a somatic and emotional level, of what life is supposed to be: an effortless richness, a celebration of each day, even as sometimes we devote every particle of our energy to our work. I have long believed this on an intellectual level, but actually experiencing it is what, I hope, has changed me permanently. Even as I reacclimate to the United States, a little bit of Colombia is alive inside of me.