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April 7, 2008

I took my mom to the Massachusetts museum of Contemporary Art (MassMoCA) a couple of weeks ago and was impressed by a particular exhibit that used poetry in a very unique way.  I won’t go into detail here, but I do want to share a few of the lines that I recorded as they floated up the wall of a darkened room…

“Whatever you say reverberates.  Whatever you don’t say speaks for itself.”

“And it all sounds as if it’s only a room away.  Nothing has changed.  Only there are more people, and new offenses.”

“Listen, my heart pounds inside of you.”

To me, these lines are a testament to the interconnectedness of our lives.  What we say and do–and what we don’t say and don’t do–impacts those around us in both perceptible and imperceptible ways (it “reverberates”).  Everyone’s anguish, everyone’s joy, is close to us and to ours (“it’s only a room away”).  The pain a mother feels when her son is killed at war is the pain we feel when we lose a family member of our own.  The elation a bride and groom feel on their wedding day is the elation we feel when we fall in love ourselves.  If we’ve known love, grief, sadness, loss, hope, doubt, fear, or frustration, then we’ve known another’s emotions.  The causes may be different, but the consequences are the same:  feelings that bring us to our knees or into the clouds.  If we recognize that the feelings we experience are the same feelings that others experience, we can come to know empathy.  And if we know empathy, we can come to know compassion.  And with compasssion, we can change lives. 


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