I was in the midst of leading a five day retreat on a small island when I heard the news that Marshall Rosenberg, the creator of the NVC model, passed last week. It was poignant for me that this retreat–on freedom from triggers—started on the same day (February 7th) that he died. I had this visceral and visual sense of workshops and trainings simultaneously taking place all over the world…pulsating, circling out, multiplying into the universe and creating waves of understanding, awareness, caring and compassion. He had left this world and then, in a very real sense, hadn’t.
My second, immediate awareness was of loneliness. I hadn’t fully realized the level of companionship that I felt with him, even with his being retired the last few years and no longer actively teaching. With him no longer on the planet—at least in physical form, I felt alone in a very real sense. I stayed present with that aloneness–didn’t try to push it down or talk myself out of it or distract myself from it. Even in the midst of leading the retreat, I found space to honor it.
Through this mourning, I celebrate Marshall’s life. If I had not met him or learned this practice, I would have not had that very skill at that moment: to notice what I’m feeling, to be present to it, and, in doing so, be able to navigate and move through it. After fully being with my aloneness and mourning, I noticed a new light shining through: my gratitude for being part of this “circle” of CNVC Trainers. In connecting in my desire for companionship, community and support, I remembered–actually, my body remembered (thanks to the self-empathy), that in (a different way) these needs are indeed met for me.
There is a Thich nat Han quote that I love–that the next Buddha will not be an individual but a community. I think it’s what Martin Luther King, Jr. meant when he talked about the “beloved community.” Sometimes in our human-ness we “miss the mark”–and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to know Marshall as a human being, a person, as well as a beloved and highly skilled teacher and trainer. It is this “human-ness” (with his profound skill) that equally inspired me–to trust that, even I, with all my own brokenness and foibles–could learn to practice this “ninja” skill and have moments of flight. As a trainer, I attempt to share my own human-ness as well. And, in all these moments–with all of who we are, I do believe we are, in fact, creating together that “beloved community.”
For me, the above experiences are the most poignant celebration of Marshall’s life that I think I could offer. I’ve been practicing NVC for years now–and teaching for more than a decade–and continue to have “ah-hah” and “wow” moments… what I see as moments of NVC “magic” where shift and transformation occur and a new perspective emerges. Possibility has always been my favorite word. And this is what practicing NVC creates for me: a world of possibility.
What will make life more wonderful? This is the question I heard Marshall repeatedly ask. Life is already amazing and full and wonderful (even with its pain and broken-ness). And what will make it even more wonderful–?
Thank you Marshall for opening up this world of possibility.
Sending this with gratitude, reverence and awe… and energized determination,