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With the birth of the Internet, a new renaissance arrived, one we hoped that would usher in greater connection and oneness. Since then, it’s become clear that the Internet, while marvelous at alerting us to the latest capsule collection or other must-have-now good, has not lived up to its idealized expectations. Sure, we can’t discount the wonders of connecting with loved ones through space and time, but let’s be honest, algorithm-driven apps still get more face time. 

In an ideal world, the Internet would have created a space to integrate ideas, cultures, and ways of being—particularly, our ways of being. Integrate, a verb that means the combining of one thing with another to become greater than the whole, shares its root ‘integer’—meaning intact or whole—with the word integrity. So to integrate, we must come together with a wholeness of being that includes our character or the essence of who we are and our physical bodies, not our online avatars.

Can we still integrate into a world that prioritizes the online experience?  

We haven't stopped. In churches around the world, a portion of weekly services are devoted to shaking hands with pew neighbors. A secular equivalent is what we do every day when we arrive at work, play dates, or other group meetups, and greet people one-by-one. But we need to do it more.  

Making tangible connections is the first step to becoming a part of the whole. It’s choosing coffee with a friend over an idle hour mindlessly scrolling online. It’s making eye contact with people we stroll by rather than glancing down at our phones. Memes are great, but once read do we ever look at them again? Conversations are the building blocks of integration. 

As we engage more deeply within our communities, our purpose—what we choose to do and why we do it—crystalizes because we have the support of the whole. Our willingness to positively contribute to our society increases, too. Work becomes effortless because we share it with people who understand who we are and who we are becoming. 

A decade ago, I produced a documentary film on a community radio show. I interviewed several of the long-standing performers and directors curious to understand what kept them returning to work on a show that paid nothing and demanded exhausting days of production.  

“It’s about being a part of something bigger than you are,” one director shared. 

This is what it means to integrate. 

When we look at that framed panoramic lake view in our living room we can't help thinking "I loved living there."

But did we?

Reviewing all components of our journey doesn't always reveal to be the best photograph along the way.

What if we show what is underneath?

Playback Theater is an original form of improvisational theater in which the audience tell stories from their lives and watch them enacted on the spot. Not primarily a therapeutic technique, it is reported to provide insight, catharsis, connection, and self-expression through telling stories and participating in enacting stories of others.

What is hidden? What do we want to reveal?

Moving can be distressing. And isolating. Here you are, on the road again. And yet, not an expert.

The thought of letting others know who you are today can be painful at first. Or messy. But sharing enables to substantively fill that future photograph of ours, with its equal part of joy and pain.

Your past is important.

It is what you know; it is what is familiar. The past — with all of its pains and all of its joys — encapsulates each step you have taken, each step that has led you to where we are NOW, made you the person you are today. With that in mind, it is essential that you honor every person, every event that has shaped the course of your life.  What is truly amazing is that when you look back - really examine and reflect upon the beautiful body of work that you have been cultivating - you can more clearly see the way forward! 

Sometimes, moving forward requires that you let go of some part of your past. In the great words of international speaker and author Steve Maraboli, “Letting go means to come to the realization that some people [or titles, or events, or beliefs] are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny.”   

What must you release in order to move forward? What thing from the past might be holding you back, preventing you from becoming the person you are meant to be?

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