FIONA NEARY celebrates diversity as a way to create communities that are vibrant, dynamic, and interesting. She finds ways to overcome language barriers, and discover common experience and ways of communication that are uplifting and allow us all to flourish.
In nature, there is a tendency for plants of many species to grow in diverse communities; climbing, crawling, fruiting, sturdy vegetation that support one another like a symphony. There is beauty and harmony in the offerings of each plant and flower, and every bug and animal living nearby also benefit from this array of sustenance. They are all different colors and shapes. But despite the variety, all plant life is working toward a simple goal: to thrive, rise to the sun, and let life blossom into future generations.
I think we are very similar to our green-leafed friends. We have the inherent desire to help each other grow and reach our full potential. This beautiful spark of humanity is easily seen when we have a common goal centered around community, caring for one another, with a focus bigger than ourselves.Any perceived differences naturally fall away. At the same time, we are all unique, and the many cultural and demographic distinctions make the human experience so fascinating.
I have felt the greatest sense of unity amongst large groups of people, sharing a common goal and direction, or the appreciation for something beautiful. I have traveled overseas a few times and experienced deep connections with people in airports; people I would probably never encounter otherwise. Sometimes, there is a feeling of overwhelm and vulnerability. But when you share this duality of emotion with another traveler, there is a strong sense of camaraderie and teamwork when heading to the destination together.
This in-between space can foster the most wonderful synchronicity. I think it is the magic in travel. Being in an unfamiliar place can strip away the conditioned behaviors we follow daily, and enables us to step away from our differences and embrace each other’s humanness.
I think experiencing different cultures is an essential part of life. Even with language barriers we find other ways to communicate. Smiles are a universal form of body language! Our human hearts are always connected to each other, just like tree roots are connected to each other through the soil.
Smiles are a universal form of body language!
Our human hearts are always connected to each other,
just like tree roots are connected to each other through the soil.
Music can unite people of all backgrounds. Its sweet sounds are heard floating through the subways, buskers on the street, and from children’s mouths. In a large, bustling metropolis like New York City, I have seen musicians draw a crowd. People appreciate the beautiful melodies. A feeling of unity and togetherness is apparent, and no one cares what class, status, age, or race the other people are. There is just music! In difficult times, music is one thing that can soften hearts and let us breathe in the light of comfort and community in the gravity of it all.
In modern times, social media is one of the primary methods of communication and knowledge-sharing. I believe it is so important to be conscious of what we are allowing into our minds from the cyber world. In the beginning of the year, I decided to follow people and social media accounts that fill my heart and show the best side of humanity, for example, accounts on Instagram that share only good news.There are people greeting family members for the first time in years, surprising grandparents on their birthdays, doing something simple and meaningful. These videos and stories are sent in from all over the world, people from every culture and background, and you can feel the beauty in human connection.
It is so easy to have empathy when we see someone overcome with joy and tears in their eyes. When I am down, I sometimes watch one of these videos, and become filled with love.
I am also very interested in stories of strangers or friends sharing openly about life and healing together through a common understanding. Thoraya Maronesey is a filmmaker who interviews strangers in different cities to find out their secrets. They choose to stay anonymous or show their faces. Something about this casual invitation allows them to feel seen and heard. Hearing the struggles of others helps us feel a little less alone in whatever we are going through.
There is so much in the news that can make us feel divided. Sometimes we feel lonely or unheard, or brought down in sadness. But there is so much good happening also! We can live and flourish like the many plants in a garden and lift each other up. By getting curious about different cultures, we see that we are all part of the same small, vibrant globe.
Fiona studied Fine Arts and Spanish at the University at Albany in New York. She is a Heartfulness trainer and a certified Yoga instructor. Fiona is inspired by nature and is passionate about creating introspective spaces to share with others through her landscape paintings, photography, music, and conversation.