I don’t even know where to begin. A week ago I became a grandmother again—my son and his wife had a little baby girl. I finished my planning and work on the new Many Kites Learning Center in Bemidji. We started a new Youth Radio project. I rebuilt an entire website. I created three pretty kites out of satin with my sister. I gave a talk on forgiveness and compassion at a local church.
Life is so full that I feel like I am overflowing.
So, what is on my mind today? In this moment?
For some reason, I want to explore how not to become immersed in our own fears for our planet, our country, our own lives. When Ghandi said, Be the change you want to see in the world, this was not just a pretty little quote that we all love. It was a call to action—and the path he suggests is not an easy path. We’re all spinning around in our own well-built neural networks–patterns designed to keep us safe and small and invisible. This is not a path toward change and action. The problem is that in order to “be the change” we have to be the change long enough to grow new patterns—new neural networks. We have to grow out of our small selves and into something bigger, newer, more empowered . . .
For weeks and weeks we’ve been spinning around in negative images, sounds, ads, bullshit designed by the spin masters to play on our deepest fears. I am so freaking tired of it that a part of me seeks only solitude and silence like a bear that has been wounded in the woods. And yet I know that that is not the way for me. I have to expand my personal boundaries beyond these fears and disillusionment. I have to act. I have to be. I have to behave in ways that are aligned with my belief that we really can create the world we want.
When I was a child and then later a teenager, I just felt too much. Every hurt in the world I seemed to feel inside of my soul. I remember reading Alan Patton’s, “Cry the Beloved Country” and sitting in my bedroom in my parents’ house and sobbing as if the world had broken into two pieces. The story is about what happens when the many tribal people of South Africa began to seek their fortunes in the city of Johannesburg. It was the death of a whole cultural way of life, and the death of families and values and individuals. And oh, the suffering . . . It hurt me. It still hurts me, but I have learned to turn the hurt into action and understanding that hopefully will make a difference for my life and the lives of others.
I’ve also learned that I have no right to carry the hurt of others—hurt that I haven’t earned. But I can stand with and for others who are hurting in a warrior stance. When we learn to integrate our own suffering without self-obsession but as if each wounding is a medals we wear on our chest—and these medals so painfully earned give us strength and presence in the world. When we can do this then the suffering is transmuted into strength like the alchemist who yearns to turn base metal into gold
I remember a poem from Langston Hughes that impressed me so much when I was a teenager that I made it a mantra for my life.
Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.
I hold fast to my dream that we can create a peaceful, compassionate world where people of all races and places find safety and solace. I hold fast to my right to dream and fly.
My husband likes it when I include stories in my weekly post. He says I lose my readers when I get too far into my own thoughts and mind. He’s probably right, but for this moment, I just really needed to ramble and rant. Thanks for staying with me.
Here are some challenges for you.
What patterns do you have that keep you locked into a small way of being, unable to act and dream in fresh new ways?
Can you imagine a “you” beyond these limitations? Who would you be? What would you be doing?
Have you become a victim of your own suffering rather than wearing the most painful moments like medals on your chest and using the power of pain itself to gain strength and presence?
Are you acting and doing, moving and shaking, dreaming and waking?
In a couple of days I will post a very autobiographical story of a girl who goes in search of answers to painful questions. It is part of a larger collection that was my effort to combine Hesse’s Siddhartha and Voltaire’s Candide. I called it “Evida.” I’ll post it in a day or so.
Then, as usual, be sure to subscribe to my weekly posts or pass it on to others. The comments have been growing every week, and I so appreciate all of you who take in what I write and then make it into your own gold. Thanks. Also, to those of you in northern MN, we are having an open house at the new Many Kites Learning Center in Bemidji, MN from 1-4 on Sunday at 522 Beltrami Ave, Suite 17. See more details at www.manykites.com.