I shared a teaching story attributed to Paulo Coehlo in the context of a recent coaching session, and realized that others might appreciate it too. Like all storytellers, I've probably colored the tale with my own experience in the retelling, but hopefully, the essence remains.
On a recent outing, a teacher and his students witnessed in the distance a couple angrily shouting at each other.
The teacher asked his students, "Why do people in anger shout at each other?"
The students thought for a while. Then, one shrugged and said, "When we lose our calm, we shout."
"But why shout when another is right next to you, and you do not need to raise your voice to be heard?" asked the teacher.
The students pondered, but remained puzzled.
The teacher explained, "When two people are angry at each other, their hearts contract and grow distant. When they experience this inner distancing, they raise their voices to be heard. The angrier they are, the louder they shout to be heard across the distance."
The teacher continued, "What happens when two people fall in love? They don't shout at each other but talk softly with one another because their hearts are very close. The distance between them feels nonexistent or very small.
When they love each other even more, what happens? Their voices soften. They do not speak, only whisper, growing even closer to each other in their love. In time, even whispers are unnecessary, and they speak volumes simply by looking at each other through the eyes of love. That is how close two people are when they love each other."
He looked at his students and cautioned, "When you argue, do not fall into the imaginary chasm between your hearts. Do not shout words that distance you from each other. Do not fall apart.
When we shout in anger, we cannot hear each other. When we shout instead of listening and speaking our differences in love, we fall apart. Do this often, and there comes a day when the imagined distance is so great that we can no longer find our way across."
Instead, build a bridge with your words. Listen and speak softly. Breathe, hum, and sing together. Find reasons to laugh with each other.
And if these are not possible in the moment, walk away for now, but not forever. Take the time and space you need to rest, reflect, and reconnect with the love that bridges all imaginary chasms between hearts.
What's your experience? Share as inspired. I'd love to hear from you.