March 23rd, 1995 was a very special day in my life. Twenty six years ago today, I stood on the Great Wall of China with life and all its possibilities before me.
I remember grounding my feet on those ancient stones and looking in all directions, taking in every smell and sound, the crisp air of spring, a world waking up again. I looked to the sky and imagined the near-invisible speck I must appear from space. The miniscule blip in a moment of time on earth. Still, I could not help but feel the wonder and awe of this incredible existence. I felt such appreciation for my life and contemplated if the many generations of ancestors before me, could witness or receive this gratitude.
I waited until I was alone and said a quiet prayer. A prayer that I might never forget this experience and to play my part in this world in the best ways I knew how, from the innermost depths of my heart. Something about the massive undertaking and scope of the construction of the Great Wall was near unfathomable to me. It conjured a deep knowing within me, and as I looked out over the breathtaking landscape, I acknowledged a truth, that every single human being on the planet, including me, has immeasurable capabilities. I intended to make this a good life. I made a promise that day to follow my heart and to trust in the gifts bestowed upon me.
Today on March 23rd, 2021, there is a whole lot of life between me and that promise. At times I strayed from that promise but always found my way back eventually. Mental health challenges played a massive role in my separation from self and there were years lost in my connection to that appreciation for life. Today I begin the work for an ongoing passion-project entering its very sacred fourth year. The Connection Project has helped me overcome and heal many parts of my hurt. I’ve met the most incredible people through its creation. This project is a rediscovery of family, friendship, and community. Brought forth by the beauty of storytelling, those involved are afforded an opportunity to be witnessed in their vulnerability and courage, and are met with compassion and kindness.
The project is no longer a solitary one. While I hold the responsibility of carrying out the annual event, the podcast (currently on hold), and other aspects of the project, there is a growing family of people and community behind it all—proof that absolutely no one is alone in this.
My hope for this project is that those suffering with mental health challenges might be aided and assisted in finding the connections within or without to best serve their path to well-being.
Each year I look forward to witnessing the speakers on stage, sharing from their hearts, healing themselves, and bestowing their gifts upon the world. Each story, as impactful and as full of capacity as a Great Wall. Every heart a blinding light, visible by all of our ancestors, in every galaxy in the universe.