At the start of the year I made a resolution to embrace a practice that the author Seth Godin called ‘having a radical amount of empathy’.
From the first time I heard the phrase, I couldn’t shake it. Call it a case of confirmation bias, but I began having recurring conversations that lead me back to this idea of radical empathy. I carried this thought with me and soon realised that everything I wanted to achieve for 2019 was fundamentally tied to this concept.
Percolating constantly, this concept began merging with other fragments of knowledge and beliefs I'd come to collect through life. I started writing countless fervent notes on my phone desperate to dig out and understand what was happening in my brain.
There's always a moment of revelation in these stories. For me, it was when a podcast I'd been listening to echoed a sentiment I read about years prior on love - not romantic love, but transcendental love. I realised that I was experiencing was a shift in the way I understood a concept I'd never previously identified with - spirituality.
Growing up I felt disconnected from theism and suspicious of the New Age movement. To me, at the core of their esotericism they were two sides of the same coin - concepts people devoted their lives to with no evidence - and I was much more comfortable on the solid footing of scientific reasoning.
Tim Urban, author of my favourite blog on the internet Wait But Why, published a post in 2014 called Religion for the Nonreligious. In it, he discusses the ‘consciousness staircase’ and the idea that in the moments you’re high enough on the staircase, the only emotion possible is love.
He contends that sometimes, with the right clarity, we get to spend a moment on that step and briefly experience what he calls a ‘woah moment’ - a higher level of human consciousness.
The idea of enlightenment is both a religious and a philosophical concept - the former of which is naturally spiritual but the latter of which is marked by an emphasis on the scientific method. So while getting to a higher state of consciousness doesn’t seem like a concept that compliments evidence-based science, as long as there are things we don’t know that we don’t know, we’ll never be able to say there’s no way that spirituality and science won’t one day practically intersect.
The practice of having a radical amount of empathy has unlocked my perception - the way I perceive myself but more importantly the way I perceive others. To see and be seen.
It’s given me cause to question and redefine my own understanding of what it is I actually do. Being a jeweller is a trade; a craft; an art form; a career; and for me, a vocation.
And what is jewellery? It’s a product, an accessory, an adornment, an artwork; an object, a symbol, a talisman. It has a dual capacity of value that’s both inherent to the materials it’s made from but also imbued by the maker, the acquirer and the wearer.
Through this process, the physical object is given power, and in its exchange of hands from maker, to acquirer, to wearer, is a most intimately manifested exchange of the human experience.
“We selectively pay attention and invest [the objects in our lives] with emotion as it serves the deeper, largely unconscious process of individuation, or becoming who we truly are.”
- CLARE COOPER MARCUS, HOUSE AS A MIRROR OF SELF
I have a unique opportunity and perspective to see my client, and thusly I too am seen. We are bound by our exchange; it gives me the clarity to know that the only emotion possible is love.
This repetitive act of connection and exchange of the human experience is what I actually do.
And it’s teaching me that I have, in fact, been a spiritual person my whole life. I’ve been given opportunities to ascend the consciousness staircase — and in those moments, briefly, I am enlightened.
Custom and bespoke jewellery is not just for weddings and engagements.
The pieces pictured in this journal were gifts that have become signifiers of the moment and cause for being received -- a first mother's day, giving new life to inherited gemstones, a birthday, a work anniversary, a welcome into the family, and a just because we love you.
My books are open for custom and bespoke jewellery for the second half of 2019.
Until next time,
Alicia Hannah Naomi x