To be human is to know that we are imperfect and whole: we will hurt and be hurt; we will feel disappointed and will disappoint; we will stumble and fall and get back up again. To be human is to remember that this being human is an experiment without a goal or destination but with a plan that includes learning about love at its center.

To be human is to love awkwardly and without skill, for how can we practice that which we never learned or saw? We will sit with our partner in a cesspool of pain and silent confusion and have no idea how to climb out. We will feel connected and alive and then disconnected and alone. We will doubt and exhale, find peace and forget again. This is what it is to love another with hearts that have been hurt and souls that have not yet learned how to love fully.

To be human is to feel uncomfortable even with the people we love most in the world.

To be human is to forget to connect to gratitude, to forget to take care of ourselves, to forget to pray. Perhaps we spend more time forgetting than remembering, which makes those brief dips into the sparkling pool of remembering ever more delicious and divine.

To be human is to grow towards an acceptance of paradox and widen our capacity to tolerate uncertainty until we say “I don’t know” more often than “I know.”

To be human is to struggle. Eventually we realize that when we sit under the umbrella of “shoulds” – this shouldn’t be so hard, I should be happy – the pain rains down harder. But when we accept the fact that struggle is part of the design we step out into the rain and perhaps even dance a little.

To be human is to grieve even when we don’t know why we’re grieving, to feel afraid even when we don’t know why we’re scared, and to feel joyful even when we don’t know the source of our joy.

To be human is to make mistakes, and sometimes this means that we will hurt others, whether our closest loved ones or people we’ve never met. To be human is to say “I’m sorry. I hope you can forgive me” as we dance a dance of closeness and pain, remorse and forgiveness, rupture and repair.

To be human is to experience times of ease and flow alternating with times of struggle. When we identify too closely with the struggle we fall into despair. When we attach too deeply into ease we slip into hubris. Just as the petals of the tulip open and close with the rising and setting sun, so we open and close, float and fight along this river of life.

To be human is to long to be seen with the perfect attunement of a new mother, and yet to know that there is no such thing as perfect attunement. In moments of clarity and wisdom, we remember that the only perfect seeing comes from our relationship to Source, the Divine, the One Beyond. In those loving and invisible arms, we are seen, known, and loved.

To be human is to have hidden caverns inside the labyrinth of psyche, shadowlands that you cannot see or know until you’re cracked open, and from the fissure the light floods in and illuminates the shadow, causing what lives below to fly up into consciousness.

To be human is to realize that your partner also has these shadow-regions, places of darkness that you cannot see or know in the beginning or even for years until one day he or she is cracked open and the furies fly to the surface, asking to be known, asking to be loved into healing.

To be human is to have blind spots. No matter how much we delve into the interior realms, there will always be places we cannot see ourselves. This is why the most honest and courageous question we can ask a trusted loved one is, “What am I not seeing?” And when the blind spots are illuminated, we sing a song of gratitude that another veil of illusion and mis-seeing has been lifted.

To be human is to age. The fine lines in your 30s will deepen to creases in 40s and 50s and beyond. Because we live in a culture that erases the lines, we’re forgetting that our lines tell the stories of our lives. Look, that’s when I laughed so hard that I cried. Look, that’s when I cried so hard I crumpled into silence. And where are the silver-haired women? They’re being dyed out of the culture, so fierce is our fight against time. What we don’t often see is that with aging comes wisdom, with time comes acceptance, and with the shortening of days comes the lengthening of gratitude.

To be human is to serve, whether it’s the patch of earth outside your dwelling, the furry creature at your feet, the people with whom you share a home, or in a broader, more public context. One form of serving isn’t superior to any other. When the service overflows from the waters in our well of Self, we connect to the source and to a place of meaning. As Jane Goodall says, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

To be human is to connect to every other being on the planet, not just through information but through the brain of the heart that opens with strength and courage until the young limp boy being carried from the water in the arms of an aching soldier is my son and his mother is my sister and from across all the seas and lands of this vast yet small planet she collapses in my arms and I hold her there, the grief of my prayers catching her in an invisible blanket.

To be human is to love and be loved as best we can, and to remove the barriers that prevents us from loving fully and freely so that we can bring our love into the world that so desperately needs us.

Author's Bio: 

Sheryl Paul, M.A., has counseled thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, her bestselling books, her e-courses and her website. She has appeared several times on "The Oprah Winfrey Show", as well as on "Good Morning America" and other top media shows and publications around the globe. To sign up for her free 78-page eBook, "Conscious Transitions: The 7 Most Common (and Traumatic) Life Changes", visit her website at And if you're suffering from relationship anxiety – whether single, dating, engaged, or married – give yourself the gift of her popular eCourse