Move back to South Africa. Stay for 3 months. Write something great.
I was having a conversation today with a relatively new friend. This is a friend that has only known me for the last 8 months or so, during my breakdown, my confusion, my attempt at sanity, my fight with jaded-ness, etc. This conversation, and his opinion of my personality, brought a few things to light that I don’t think I wanted to see. His assessment of me is not filtered by past success or failure. It is not seen in light of difficulty or struggle. It is simply who I am in his experience. It is normal to him. Only . . . I don’t feel normal.
I am reading a book right now that steps through the process of “personal enlightenment” (forgive the phrase) with a young woman. Her journey takes her to the pit – the point where you see yourself, the part you don’t want to see, and choose how to handle it, how to move on. This year has been about seeing the darkness in me. It has actively highlighted my tendency to be extremely selfish, condescending, judgmental, a big brat of a person. It has shown me that I am actually no-good at serving, loving or being generous – although I thought I was. It erased the list of things I had “done for the Kingdom” and replaced it with the emptiness that comes from knowing how far the trail still goes in front of me.
While I don’t know any of the answers to my questions about this personality conflict - how do I improve? where do I go from here? is it worth the effort? will i ever be a genuinely good person? - I am still going to try . . . bare with me, please.
(when I was publishing the shortlink for this blog, the verification code that I had to submit popped up Truthful Visitor. How appropriate.)
Update (perhaps I should put time stamps on these updates as I suspect this will be a continuing, daily process)
Upon re-reading this blog I realized how pitiful it sounds. I don’t feel pitiful, I am just expressing that ever present reality that must be accepted in order to improve. That deepest darkness that is the way up. That wrung on the ladder known as negative one.
On the outside it may appear that my life has been a series of disjointed decisions, un-rooted locations and fickle changes of mind. But one step closer reveals a story of true community and understanding what it means to live in that community. I might not always do it well, I know I don’t, but this is what I have found to be true: accepting that, within your relationships, there is a joint destiny – a shared interest in day to day events and the success of vision – makes serving and loving and being committed a rather freeing experience.
Take a look at those closest to you. Imagine tomorrow with those same people.
I had a dream a few years ago that I think paints this picture well. In the dream I was in heaven. Walking down a long aisle towards the Throne with throngs of people on either side of me. During my journey down the aisle I glanced to my left and there, in the crowd, was a friend. Our eyes caught and in that moment we shared the deepest gratitude between each other. We knew that our lives had been lived together all in preparation for that moment, the moment after this life and at the beginning of eternity.
The shared destiny of those around us is what connects us in community. Whether we live in dorms full of like-minded people, or on our own. Whether we have attended the same church since birth, or gather with friends more casually. Whether we work in ministry, or serve elsewhere, each person has a connection and each connection grows stronger as we submit to the fact that we are part of the journey for those around us.
There is a greeting in Nepal and India, Namaste. As a salutation it means I bow (reverentially) to you. It has also been translated, The light in me sees the light in you. I love what comes from meditation on this one word. Dwelling within those around us is a Living Spirit, the same in ourselves, and bowing to this, placing them above ourselves, sharing in the triumphs and struggles of life, brings our relationship with them to a new level. No longer are they just co-workers or roommates or classmates. They are light on this Earth and we can honor their presence here as a created being, full of life, love and potential.
Our Joint Destiny’s may be easy to define – perhaps within a project that serves to improve the lives of others or bring awareness or just living life together – or it may be harder to grasp, just a presence in space and time and that doesn’t appear to have meaning today, but is important for the journey. Either way, let us be aware of our joint destiny and serve each other, helping those around us reach their best.
Stories of individuals trafficked across borders, away from home and into horrifying circumstances trickle through our news media. Daily programs on the state of the environment hound us. Pictures of the poor scream out to us, but what do we do? The stories seem far away, distant plights of people we don’t know or see, but, in reality, our daily actions, decisions on what we buy and willingness to be a part of the solution are the only things that will change the world.
Here are my top 5 ways that you, today, could be a part of tipping the scale in a more positive direction.
5. Get informed. The company you buy your pants from could be exploiting people. People have already done the research for you, all you have to do is read up and take an extra minute when you shop to read a label. Here is a Phenomenal resource (capital P!): The Better World Shopping Guide. Easy to read, easy to change the world! Be informed to make a difference.
4. Buy Well. Instead of breaking even, lets move towards empowered purchases. Use your money to give someone a job, use your money to keep a family safe, use your money to support a refugee. Here is one of my favorite empowerment organizations: Yobel Market.
3. Think Local. It is summer here in the Northern Hemisphere. Get out to your local farmers market to do your grocery shopping. You will be supporting local farmers, helping the environment and getting tasty food all in one trip. I rank this high on my list of favorite summertime activities!
2. Support the Next Generation. There are many ways to help put the world straight. Supporting organizations that are working with people in need are a great way to be a part of the action from wherever you are. Here are two of my favorites, so pick a hemisphere and give a little: 1. Kathmandu Children’s Home, Nepal. For $60.00 a month you can give a child schooling, food, medical attention and a safe home – all factors in improving the next generation. Split the 60 with friends or raise money with a group. Click Here to start! 2. It’s simple. One Doll, One Child, One full year of school. Original handcrafted dolls made by women and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being offered for sale by Raise Their Voice. One purchase and you have helped a generation move towards real success and opportunity.
1. Get on your knees. The truth is organizations, non-profits and aid programs have been around a long time. So what is the one thing that will push the efforts further, multiply our time and resources, and truly change a life? That humble, submissive attitude and remembrance that others are truly better then ourselves that comes through prayer and meditation.
Memorial Day Weekend. The pharse rings of camping trips, smokey clothes and that wonderful feeling of sleeping heavily in the wild and not minding the layer of dirt and debris that accumlate over your skin and under your finger nails. Last night I took a last minute offer to spend the evening with my sister and bro-in-law in Littleton and then head into the mountains for the day to hike, laugh and workout those summer legs.
After a quick breakfast of homemade muffins, we loaded the car with dogs, snacks, water, cameras and sunscreen. (I should mention that we also loaded after my strange inability to be content with my hiking attire led Tim to donate a pair of perfectly good blue jeans to be hacked into fashionable shorts.) We landed in Estes Park just in time for not-so-great pizza and a trip into the visitors center for maps of Rocky Mountain National Park. Gladly paying the $20.00 for the car load to keep the park open, we ventured to a sweet trail called Lawn Lake and started our way up.
A short distance in we lost Tim. He disappeared ahead of us as we stopped for a photo-op and never again surfaced. As we hiked further into the mountain with no sign of him, discussion turned to how we should best handle the situation. He could be in front of us, having easily out paced us. Or, he could be behind us, having left the trail, despite the signs of significant erosion, and then turned back down towards the trailhead. Seemed to me that the best place to try and reconnect with a lost hiker would be at the car, so we turned around. Other parties headed up the trail were asked to tell the man with the purpleish shirt and grey shorts that we turned back.
We got to the car to find Tim sitting patiently in the drivers seat. Like a magic trick where he disappeared and reappeared where we didn’t expect. Appartently he was trying out his hunting skills and stalked us for some time, unnnoticed, before losing sight of us and turning around himself. He got to the car just before we did.
I am glad he wasn’t really lost. He would have been stuck in the downpour that caught us on the way back. Silly boy.
I realize my posting habits have taken a sacrificial turn over the last year. It seems so easy to write about life in interesting places where even the mundane possesses something discussion worthy. Instead, I am stuck in my hometown trying desperately not to fall into the “American Dream” that is hounding me. I am almost pissed at myself for even having an apartment lease, let alone an office job with an ever tightening leash. Perhaps my boss senses my roots uprooting and is trying to force them back in the inappropriate earth. Perhaps I am just freaking out, trying to stretch in a too small space and no one else notices. Either way, I have clearly disconnected from work. Still working, still pushing papers around my desk like a child shuffling cards, but not connected.
As I was pinging around the internet today I found Demand Studios, dedicated to freelance writers. On this website a person submits writing samples, links to published materials, uploads a resume and, if you get approved, you are assigned writing projects for which you get paid, expand your portfolio, and have something to work on that possesses potential nourishment (strikingly unlike my current paying job and half way to ESM). Today I was approved! I have been feeling like my writing was being pushed out of the kitchen lately, so this should help me get on track.
Another sweet thing I found while perusing other people’s Twitter followers: We Grow Media. These sweet folks are openly sharing info on how to expand businesses, blogs and interests using Social Media. Great tips, articles and info from this site has been keeping me busy and making me think. I shall incorporate their wisdom into our ESM Social Media Extravaganza and see what happens.
Meanwhile, my dear business partner, Marie, is sacrificing her time and energy in Australia to try and expand ESM in all directions. I have found the Aussies are particularly interested in what we are doing, more involved in the social justice mainstream, and a heck of a lot more willing to spend money then my precious Americans. Thank you, Aussies. It is people like you, willing to risk it, that keep me going. Nothing will change if we don’t take steps to change it and I suspect the land down-under will have a lot to do with coming social awareness and policy improvement.
In 19 days Marie and I will be in Honolulu for the bi-annual Eye See Media brainstorming retreat. Having an international business is challenging. There are so many ways to end up falling off the page with each other. While our dream is to someday run ESM from a headquartered location with interns and desks and all that offices have to offer, we must stay on track by meeting twice a year, casting vision, laying down groundwork, digging up what didn’t work, and re-planting. We have been intentionally fluid with our business model, knowing full well that we know not what we we’re doing. These little meetings help us to stay solid and focused. I am really looking forward to it. I know, Honolulu isn’t a great location, but if I have to surf to run a great media company, I might as well learn in Hawaii.
I feel updated. Nice.
My heart wanders.
Drifts. In and out of dreams.
She catches light. Hides in darkness.
Grows straight then branches sideways.
Unpredictable. Loyal to her calling.
She bleeds the red of sacrifice.
She steals the blue of sorrow.
My heart wanders through wild fields and untamed secrets.
She stands at still waters edge. Gazing deep in refreshing destination.
My heart pauses. At core.
From April to August, 1,000 Miles via my own human power.
5/6/2010 13.6 - 166.6 gone, 833.4 left
5/5/2010 11.6 - 153 gone, 847 left
5/4/2010 10.4 - 141.4 gone, 858.6 left
131 miles gone, 869 left
I forgot to keep count! Here is this week, June 1st: 6 miles around the park with Marianne, 4 miles roundtrip grocery run, 6 miles roundtrip visit to Grandma, 10.5 miles to work. = 157.5 gone, 842.5 to go.
6/3/2010: 10.5 home last night and 10.5 into work today. 178.5 gone, 821.5 miles to go!
6/4/2010: 10.5 home from work = 189
6/5/2010: downtown, bookstore, errands a la bicycle +5 miles = 194 gone, 806 to go.
6/7/2010: 10.5 home from work (with a little break to say hi to a friend on the way) = 204.5 gone, 795.5 to go.