It’s True. You’re Human.

Shadow 28 by Catherine Mellinger

It’s true. You’re human. 

The way your mind won’t shut up when you close your eyes to meditate and breathe.  There’s nothing wrong.  You’re just human. It happens to Pema Chodron, Oprah and Deepak Chopra all the time.

The way you eat too much, not because you’re hungry, but because you’re sad, or lonely, or angry, or because you just really, really, really want another human being to give you a hug that lasts longer than 30 seconds. 

The way you obsess about the smallest details, like the shoes you’re wearing to your best friend’s grandfather’s funeral. Nobody cares about your shoes, but it’s uncomfortable to think about being at a funeral so it’s easier to feel stupid for wearing the “wrong” shoes.

The way your heart breaks every time you see a baby or a teeny tiny puppy with a pink vest on, because you want to have a small thing to care for.  A new fresh small thing that needs you more than anything else in the world.

It’s true.  You’re human.

My father courted my mother with a story about a lonely hippopotamus.  (Among other things - recorders, hundreds of letters and a yellow VW bug included.)

In his story, read at the University of Saskatchewan’s Arts and Letters club, a lonely hippo sits on the side of a lake, always alone.  Every day the hippo watches a group of animals across the bay whopping it up and having a grand old time, always together. 

One day the lonely hippo gathers all his courage and sets out on a journey to join the other animals.  He has a terrible time making his way through the swamp and tangled vines in the forest.  By the time he arrives on the other side, all the animals are gone and our dear hippo despite all his efforts is still alone. 

So, the lonely hippo turns around and heads back the way he came.  This time the swamp and vines seem to help rather than hinder his journey through the forest and back to his side of the lake, where he settles back into the familiar mud of loneliness.

We all feel like that lonely hippo at some point.  Alone, separate, watching all the other animals partying it up on the opposite side of the lake without us while we wallow in the mud.  

Outsider.  Alien.  Other. 


Is there anyone who loved high school?  Is there anyone who is blissfully happy all the time?  Is it possible to never crash or lead a truly charmed life?

Illness, death, birth, job loss, affairs, insecurity, uncertainty…

Obsessed with those stupid “wrong” shoes. 

Picking the scabs you shouldn’t, not keeping your hands to yourself, buying the chips when you already feel fat.

Worrying, worrying, worrying, worrying, worrying, worrying. 

Always. Worrying.

Born to worry, born to second guess. Born to contain your breath in that little space under your breastbone.  Tiny little breaths pretend breaths.

“If I don’t breathe I can disappear,” breaths. 

We all breathe this way. You’re not alone. 

Always breathing, never breathing.

It’s true.  You’re human.

Not knowing what to say, what to write, how to understand, how to support.

Not knowing.

Going over the same scene in your head, over and over. 

If only you had said something different, worn something different, cut your hair, put on makeup, trimmed your beard, plucked your eye brows, cleaned your bedroom, did the dishes, sorted that box, made the cardboard fort, sang karaoke, made the speech, asked for the raise, asked for what you’re worth, asked for the date.

If only you really danced. 

Really and truly danced like no one was watching, including YOU.

It’s true.  You’re human.

And you know what?

You're not broken, you're not defective, there's nothing wrong. 

You're just human.  That's it!  What a relief!

Love yourself not despite your humanness, but because of it. 

I love you, and I love myself too.

My mother, upon hearing the story of my father’s lonely hippopotamus saw his oh so human lonely animal and decided that the only thing she could do was to love him too. 

What else is there to do but to love the black gooey human mess we are and dance until some of the sludge slides off. Then love it some more and keep on dancing.



p.s. I would love for you to share this with your favorite human. 

p.p.s. My dear friend Samantha Keen is giving a free talk on The Art of Falling in Love on Monday May 27th in Toronto.  You should come!  More details and RSVP info here

p.p.p.s. Samantha and I are putting together an amazing weekend meditation workshop called Pathway to Clarity, June 22-23.  Nothing has helped me more than this work and I'm so grateful to be able to share it with you.  Find out more here

p.p.p.p.s. If you're reading this and you're not on my list, you should really get yourself on it!  Just pop on over here to get on!  All the cool kids are doing it!

p.p.p.p.p.s. I love you!