How Much Change is in Your Pocket?

Coins of change

Here it is the middle of January, and I feel like I’m on fire. 

Monday was Martin Luther King Day, and then today I was attending The Presencing Forum, a gathering in the twin cities focusing on how to help make useful and lasting change in our communities by being present and open to gaining new insights and acting from there.  On the three hour drive home my mind was racing.  It is like everywhere I look lately people are talking about change and transformation.  It excited me in a way that makes me wish I was 25 again instead of 58–but then if I had to go back I would not have the understanding that has taken thirty plus years to gain.  So, I celebrate my age and go forward.

Foremost on my mind today was the idea that we don’t really ever “change.”  Rather each new experience or time of life or problem to solve is enfolded into what came before and is likewise still open to what is yet to come.  This rich life experience gives us individual texture and context and forges the gifts that will later come out of that.  Does that make sense? 

We never totally toss away one way of being and pick up another brand new one.  It’s not like a change of clothes or cars.  It occurred to me that we could think of “change” more like the ready change in our pocket—the coin of our own experience, the coin of our own gifts and what we have to offer.  Sometimes we have some to spend—and sometimes we need somebody to give us a little.  An ex-change of sorts.

The stories I heard during this Presencing gathering we so motivating.  People are working to end violence in their communities, educate parents, find new economical models, create urban vegetable gardens, and bring back dance as a community activity.  Each person there was ready and willing to spend their creative coin with others—their change.  They had passion and ideas and so much fire that it set me on fire. 

During one of the small group sessions I saw myself and others in the room like runner on a track—bottoms up in the air, toes on the mark waiting for the gun to go off—waiting for the go.  I have sensed this pent up energy in me that wants not just to leak out but to surge out.  I go to write a few ideas down for my talk in a couple of weeks and twenty or thirty pages come rolling out of my pen.  I go to learn about this new concept and then spend three hours in the car doing everything from composing music to composing new workshops. 

A few minutes ago I talked to my daughter who is going through a lot of challenges right now.  I had to smile when she said she just needed something new to focus on and so she registered for a 800 number college course on community organizing that has nothing to do with finishing her degree.  Is it just in the air or what?

I also realized that she was not asking for my advice, or approval, or wisdom, or anything—the “coin” she wanted from me was just to listen.  I gave it freely.

So, here is my first question for you.  How much change do you have in your pocket?  It doesn’t have to be a lot, but all of us have some gift or experience to offer others.  Second question–what are you doing to give it away?  And if your pockets are a bit light, what do you need from me or others?  Don’t just count your coins, spend them.  We could just begin there. 

I love hearing from so many of you so leave a comment, share with others, or subscribe with an email address below to get my weekly article.


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7 comments to How Much Change is in Your Pocket?

  • Maria Flynn

    I especially like the thought that we don’t really change but rather fold new experiences in. Makes me think about folding beaten eggwhites into a batter, or folding in chocolate chips. I’ve had that thought before but never really seen it. Thanks for your image.

    • Hi Maria,

      Yes, I like that, too. It is so strange how we can think back to our earliest years and recognize that there has been a “self” there all along, fully developed, listening, watching, maybe even guiding. My goal has always been to be as close to that “self” as I can be and it is more of a coming toward and shedding non-working habits and patterns so that that self can shine through more brightly. What do you think? Thanks so much for your wonderful comment.

  • Hey, my baby’s got me wrapped up in change(s) But they’re not the kind that you can see (whoa oh oh) I love that change in ex change for changing. Nice post kiddo!

  • Maggie Carlson

    Your post is incredible because it hits at the heart of a postive reaction that so many of us are feeling. We are tired of hearing the negative aspects of the world and we know that together, as we spend the change in our pockets and gather the coins that are given to us, we are coming to life. I just returned from Costa Rica where I met people who are working together for compassionate communication and listening is one of the most important aspects of this practice. I know your daughter needed your presense that gave her the chance to put into the air the things she is processing. No one can fix other’s problems but we can be the support that is needed when people share their struggles. Jamie you have brought me the energy I needed today. I look forward to seeing you soon.

    • Hi Maggie,

      Nice to have you back! I can’t wait to hear about all you learned in Costa Rica. I love the term “compassionate communication.” How badly we need that in the world. I get so tired of dumb TV making it okay for people to use hostile humor with children, parents, elders, etc. It is a very bad trend for our society. Developing true, compassionate communication is such a fine mixture of art, skill, and the desire to send those kinds of messages. Thanks for checking in.

      Jamie

  • Dana Pence

    Missed this one of almost two years. I’m thinking it is still some change you needed to share or I needed to borrow. Like it. Thanks!

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