Richard Levitt: More Than 6 Feet

2 min

Richard Levitt says its more than 6 feet that separates us, but connection may be less daunting than we think.

Yesterday I got a text from a dear friend, who I haven’t seen in more than a decade. She lives in Maine. Back in the day, we were inseparable. We worked at the same place, traveled, cooked, fought like cats and dogs, and laughed ourselves silly.

Her text said, “I thought of you and breathed you in. Though we may not be together, I think of you. Love you so much!”

That message … it filled my heart. Made me ache for connection. It also brought into painfully clear focus how disconnected so many of us feel. Maybe not by an entire country. But by deeply unfortunate circumstances that just seem to keep getting worse.

And how, sadly, it’s not just six feet which separate us. It’s regressive thinking about critical social issues, that does nothing but create distance, inequity and resentment.

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On the street, I saw 25-year-old cops facing 25-year-old protesters — the same age she and I were when we hung out. Must we really take sides?

The 13th-century poet Rumi wrote, "Differences are just illusion and vanity. Sunlight looks slightly different on this wall than it does on that wall. But it is still one light.”

Of course, it’s hard to feel light when you’re hungry, frightened, angry or sick. When you are — figuratively or literally — being held down. How do we create unity when it seems our whole society is built on separation?

Then I think about that text. About her. We live 3,000 miles apart. Don’t have much in common. Don’t agree on things. Yet, in a moment, just through hope and will and love, we are connected. Because we choose to be.

We choose. I wonder whether we as a society can choose to reach past the things that keep us apart and toward humanistic values that we can share.

Rumi said, “I am not from the East or the West … I have seen the two worlds as one. And that one calls.”

With a Perspective, I’m Richard Levitt.

Richard Levitt is an East Bay writer who teaches martial arts, yoga and creative problem solving.