In the forest I spy an alder leaf of last year’s growth. Dead, perhaps, for several months, it holds on, muddied with age and decay. Transforming: not really gone; not really alive. Beside it hangs a singular berry, moldy now with the rains of winter. It, too, hangs on, not yet willing to relinquish the space to the newly created. It’s a matter of surrender as to when they leave, the timing unique to each berry and leaf.
In their place, sometime soon I imagine, they will let go their tenacious hold on the past and begin anew—blending in with the earth—a rich humus to support and nurture whatever comes next.
The same with humans. We are always changing, whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally, our beingness transforms. We are never really here … or there. Even in the deep stillness of meditation our cells continue to age while our senses ignite in awareness and our concept of oneness expands. We change.
This gives me hope.
I recently read a Guardian article which told of Australian author, Mem Fox’s, recent demeaning experience at US immigration. She had been to America 116 times before with nary a problem. But things have changed: people have changed.
So what gives me hope? Certainly not Ms Fox’s frightening experience or the abusive behaviour of the border agent. No, what gives me hope it the certainty of change. For 116 times before, Ms Fox had, I would assume, if not positive experiences then neutral ones on her arrival in the US. This time was different. Governments have changed; rules and conduct have changed. We can look at it pessimistically and say, things have changed for the worse and I wouldn’t disagree, at least in this scenario. But I also know of people who have changed for the better, who are actively questioning the direction of the US President, who are becoming more aware, taking to the streets and revitalizing grassroots activism.
It’s all about choice.
And with choice, we can change.
We could say, with a black and white perspective, that the border agent and his colleagues were bad men. They certainly acted atrociously but that begs the question: were they always like that? If so, Ms Fox would surely have encountered some taste of this behaviour in previous trips. She denies this. No, I am more inclined to think that with an aggressive bully at the government’s helm, the agents have made a choice. They have chosen to change, and not for the better. But this is not what gives me hope.
What gives me hope is that we all make choices, every day, every moment of the day. Do we stay on the same path or do we walk this way, or that. Do we mimic those in power and abuse the folk we see as different or do we make new connections and find ways to unite? Do we change for the better or the worse or maintain status quo. We all have within us the capacity for evil. There is no monopoly on malevolent behaviour as there is none with altruism, kindness and respect . Nor is there permanence in these ways of being either. No one is good or bad, it’s not black and white. It’s a daily choice—one that needs practice.
So, what gives me hope is that more and more people are realizing that we do have a choice. We can say no. We can stand up to abuse; we can resist the temptation to abuse and we can make change. We can help our neighbours, smile at a foreigner and support worthy causes. We can pick up litter, visit an elder and look beyond our job description and explore what it really means to relate to another.
There is no black and white. None of us are good or bad. It’s the choices we make, our responses to life, that determine our path and those with who we come in contact.
Also check out my newest blog, the Modern-Day Renaissance Woman where you will find excerpts my new book, Notes from the Bottom of the Box: The Search for Identity by a Modern-Day Renaissance Woman.