I just discovered the most fantastic word: mamihlapinatapai, courtesy of my friend, Maureen Miller (The Ritz Report). And while I cannot for the life of me pronounce it, I know this word in my bones.
It is referred to as one of the "top 10 foreign words that is lacking in the English language" and originates from the Yaghan language of the Tierra del Feugo located in an archipelago off of the South American mainland. The natives used the word to describe "a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other will offer something that they both desire but are unwilling to suggest or offer themselves.”.
I appreciate how this word captures the tragic space between words unspoken, moves unmade, truths not revealed and all that is lost between two people. The result is not just disconnection from one another, but dis-ease in the ways that our unexpressed words and actions get stuck in our bodies as tension.
But I also see this concept playing out in a bigger field.
I don’t think mamihlapinatapai is just a word or a moment. This disconnection is a schism that is at the root of our problems. The ways in which deny our connection to ourselves and sabotage our connection to one another; it plays out in our relationships, informs how we engage in the important social issues of this time and determines whether we participate in the politics of wellbeing and justice for all. It is a crisis of connection that is at the heart of all of our suffering and is holding us back from real, transformational change.
What is holding us back from real connection?
What are we missing out on when we participate in this stalemate of fear?
What is possible if we were to conjure up 20 seconds of courage to lean in?
What happens if we don’t?
MAMIHLAPINATAPAI is a call to connect. To close the gaps and cross the divides that separate us. To fearlessly hear and be heard, see and be seen. And to act. WE HAVE TO ACT. Now is the time to offer ourselves to one another in service to the world.
How do we do that? In the words of Charles Eisenstein…
“…let go of the paradigm of control and bow into service…to this thing larger than ourselves. And what is this "thing"? What is it that unifies all of these different things we are committed to? Let’s call it the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. As you go about your life…feel that part of you that knows that you are here in service. And ask yourself if you’re ready to bow more deeply into service. If you do it, I predict that you will experience an unexpected opportunity to act on that intention and it will be just at the edge of your courage, but not past it”.