As humans, we are capable of experiencing moments of depth with one another that we couldn’t possibly forget. Whether we’re lying on a blanket under the stars, or feeling the waves of an ocean crash against our ankles, or—hell—even sitting on a high-top at our local bar, there are people in our lives who make this saying feel true: “No matter where we are, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”
Besides the experience being framed by a beautiful natural landscape or the promise of another round of shots, have you ever realized the intricacies of what makes our interactions special with one another? What is that unnamed ingredient in the recipe of our experiences that makes us walk away and think, Fuck, I’m so grateful for that time and the person I spent it with. What a life, yo.
Parker Palmer’s book A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life helped me understand why this might be. In a book dedicated to the exploration of finding our own truth and inner-wisdom, he spends an entire chapter discussing the concepts of silence and laughter and, most importantly, how they are entirely interrelated for the people we call soulmates.
**Quick ‘lil disclaimer: Popular culture uses the term soulmate to mean your romantic life partner. Most spiritualists use soulmates in a more broad sense that encompasses friends, family, pets, or other loved ones who are particularly close to you—like cosmic connection. Parker Palmer says the mark of a soulmate is someone with whom we can experience effortless moments of silence and laughter intertwined. Many would consider these two concepts to be completely unrelated, yet Parker is sure of their connection. A few things he says:
“Silence and laughter may seem like strange bedfellows, but experience reveals that they are not. What, for example, do we call people who can spend hours together in silence without feeling awkward or tense and who can use humor to help each other through hard times? We call them, of course, good friends.”
“It takes good friends to sustain silence and laughter because both make us vulnerable. Silence makes us vulnerable because when we stop making noise, we lose control. Laughter makes us vulnerable because it often comes in response to our flaws and foibles. We can share silence and laughter only when we trust each other—and the more often we share them, the deeper our trust grows.”
“The soul loves silence because it is shy, and silence helps it feel safe. The soul loves laughter because it seeks truth, and laughter often reveals reality. But above all, the soul loves life, and both silence and laughter are life-giving. Perhaps this is why we have yet another name for people who can share silence and laughter with equal ease: we call them soulmates.”
When reading these passages, I thought about Zoe in AHS: Coven lifting her palm and commanding to the zombies, “Be in your nature!” in order to make them stop zombie-ing around the yard (also making Angela Bassett collapse on the ground in voodooland). I am grateful to have experienced so many of those magical moments of connection with soulmates that make me feel I am being in my nature as a human: complex, filled with joy, speaking meaningful shit about my life and another person who means the world to me. And to be in my true nature usually means to share moments of silence followed by roaring laughter.
Don’t run from these moments of vulnerability; I believe they are integral in helping us survive—not to mention giving me an abdominal workout from all the laughing. Let’s be in our nature, y’all.
For more: Parker Palmer: A Hidden Wholeness