At one point in her life, my sister found “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran and started reading it. She shared with me some of the insights, which were profound, so I bought a copy. Since then, I have probably gifted this book to more than 20 people!
What do I like about it?
This book offers a different perspective for some of life’s biggest topics, like Love, Marriage, Work, Joy and Sorrow, Pain, Freedom, Self-Knowledge, Teaching, and others.
But my favorite part is the chapter titled “On Children.” In this chapter, Gibran writes that children “come through you but not from you” and reminds you that each child is its own being. The goal is not to shape the child to be like YOU but to support the child to become who THEY are.
This hit me like a ton of bricks, and even though I am not a parent, I have incorporated this thinking into how I treat friends, colleagues, co-workers, loved ones, and yes – children – in my life.
I ask myself how I can support them in becoming who they are rather than trying to shape them into who I think they should be. This shift has created a much deeper level of connection with those close to me because I seek to understand them for who they are and accompany them on their path. I no longer try to influence or persuade or manipulate them onto a path that I consider the “right” one.
This insight has also helped me identify those who influence, persuade or manipulate me onto a path that they think is right for me vs those who encourage me in pursuing the path that I think is right for me. And I’ve been able to adjust who I spend my time with accordingly.
In his book, Gibran always reminds me to FIND the right kind of support for me and to BE the right kind of support for others.
When I was living in Hong Kong, I was introduced to the work of Ai Wei Wei, an artist, political activist and general rabble rouser who pushes back against authority and the status quo.
He’s from China, where pushing back against authority is not generally encouraged and while I was in Hong Kong, there were campaigns in support of him as he had been detained by the government. Since then, he has done many exhibits around the world that deal with controversial topics including mass migrations, deaths from earthquakes, labor issues, and more. I was fortunate enough to see one of his expositions in Buenos Aires where he highlighted issues of corruption and problems that arise when governments aren’t responsive to the people.
Why do I feel inspired by him?
He is definitely a controversial figure but I am inspired by, and admire, his willingness to speak up, reach out, and shine a light on topics that others are afraid to touch. I’m impressed by his ability to create visual and visceral impacts about the topics he chooses to highlight.
One of my favorite examples of this is his display of 14,000 life jackets collected from refugees who had landed in Lesbos. He had them wrapped around columns of the Konzerthaus in Berlin so that people could really see and personalize the issue.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can view a documentary called “Never Sorry” and another called “Human Flow.”
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