“…People all over the world, join hands, start a love train, love train…” If you recognize this 70’s song by the O’Jay’s, and if you’re like me, you can’t help but get out of your chair and start dancing! And if you don’t know this one, you may want to add it to your library. I love that song! And from now on whenever I hear it, it will bring a “pause” to my life as I recall a very powerful and goosebump-inducing night last year.
Bill and I were on a cruise celebrating my 40th birthday. It was glorious! As we sailed the Caribbean, one of the nights on the ship was designated as “70’s Night.” That one had my name written all over it, and it was also the backdrop for some pretty cool personal experiences for me.
In the interior of our ship was a large promenade area that looked up seven levels and was probably the length of two football fields. This was the grand setting for the evening’s kick-off party as no less than a thousand passengers filled the space.
Most of us didn’t know each other and many of us spoke different languages. But when that O’Jay’s song blasted through the speakers, and the music pumped through and filled every single corner of that massive interior of the ship, time stood still. There were beach balls smacked up in the air and bouncing off walls wherever you looked, everyone was smiling, some were videotaping, cruisers around me were high-fiving, and all of us were dancing. Talk about following your joy!
It was in that moment that I realized the power of celebrating “community.” I didn’t know anyone else there, and it didn’t matter. But I felt so loved and supported in that moment as we all shared in the beauty of celebrating life…together.
We were “in the same boat,” so to speak. And we needed each other throughout the week, as many of us were thousands of miles away from home—away from life as we knew it—sailing in vast open seas and visiting foreign lands.
We’re all in this journey of life together.
What a wonderful world
Another scenario that embraced this idea perfectly was when Bill and I hit the ship’s disco after dinner that same night. We walked in and the flashing disco lights halted and the more peaceful and soft slow-dance lights illuminated. Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” began.
We sat down and noticed an elderly couple, somewhere in their 80’s, emerge from their seats in the dark corner. They danced the most graceful dance together, obviously well-rehearsed over many, many years. As I tearfully watched them and wondered what type of lifetime stories they shared together, they effortlessly floated across the dance floor, never taking their eyes off one another, never letting their smiles dissolve. Yes, we do need each other. “What a wonderful world…”
Witnessing this made me reflect on turning 40 even more and on some of the many thoughtful gifts I received. One was given in my honor: a gift of food to feed a child in Haiti for two months. Two full months! I was speechless as I was instantly reminded of how essential it is that we support one other. It could even mean life or death to someone.
Community is to be celebrated.
A client and special friend gave me a card that birthday with a particularly poignant quote on the front. I’ve seen it many times before, but this time as I hit a milestone decade, it struck me more powerfully than ever before. The anonymous quote read: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.”
A perfect end to a magical night
That night in the disco, as Bill and I began to grow tired from our day of excitement, one more magical piece unfolded that tied everything together.
We were relaxing in an oversized, high-backed red velvet booth with our heads resting on the back, admiring the dancers. The classic “Your Song” by Elton John was playing, and the tune filled the disco to the top. The silver ball was spinning from the 2nd deck of the club, and Bill and I turned our heads to each other. And almost as if it were choreographed, we both belted out the lyrics to each other and sang along with Elton:
“I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind, while I put down in words…how wonderful life is while you’re in the world…”
I could barely get the words out without being choked up.
–And so, who is it that you need in your life?
–When was the last time that you told them?
–How can you celebrate the power of community with them?
It’s way too easy in our fast-paced world to get trapped in a silo, trying to handle everything on our own. But remember that we live on this earth together. We are here for each other.
Who will you reach out to today?
Note: Here are a few other great stories about the importance of community and how we can help each other out: