Over the dinner table, a fatalist argues that the world is corrupt and all is lost. He says that politicians and all kinds of powerful people behind the scenes pull the strings and that an ordinary mortal is powerless to do anything about it. We are on the road to ruin.
I don’t agree. The optimist in me sees the beginning of a tsunami (even a tsunami starts off small).
I see little waves getting bigger wherever I go:
We eat less meat. So do our friends.
We buy from local producers. Their shops are full of people.
My holidays involve walking in the countryside. The growing popularity of hiking appears to confirm a trend.
James F. Twyman says we should be the change that we want to see. “If you want to experience peace, become peace.” He suggests that we start by creating inside ourselves what we want to happen externally.
If a certain number of people confirm a trend, we can create our own tsunami. Conversely, sitting on our sofas and moaning achieves nothing.
What about you? What contribution do you make to the tsunami of change that you want to see?
Like all optimists I tend to think that most things are simple and easy to achieve. I’m in danger of becoming big-headed or too big for my boots.
A marathon? It’s all in the head. A 1000-km hike? You just need to put one foot in front of the other.
But I’m not Wonder Woman. The heel spur that causes me to postpone my marathon plans or the tendinitis that means I end up in accident and emergency at a Spanish hospital are both minor injuries. They are irritating, but they keep me humble when it comes to what capabilities I think I have.
Mathieu Ricard has a lovely way of describing it:
“Humility isn’t about seeing yourself as inferior but about lacking in self-importance.
It’s a state of simplicity that is in harmony with our true nature and allows us to savour the freshness of the present moment. Humility is a way of being, not a way of appearing.”
What about you? What injury has kept you humble and enabled you to appreciate your true nature?
A pilgrim comes to a village and sees a man sculpting stone.
The man looks tired and as if he is struggling.
As a good Christian, the pilgrim strikes up conversation with the man:
“Hello, what are you doing with that stone? Perhaps I can help you?”
The man replies curtly: “As you can see, I’m sculpting and it’s hard work!”
The pilgrim doesn’t pursue the matter. Further on, he sees a man who appears to be doing the same job. This man seems calm and collected. The pilgrim speaks to him and the man replies:
“My job is to sculpt this stone so that it fits into its allocated place in the building.”
The pilgrim happily goes on his way.
Further on, he sees another man who appears to be doing the same job. This man is humming to himself and seems happy. Delighted, the pilgrim strikes up a conversation:
“Good day sir. What are you doing? What is making you so happy?”
“I’m building a cathedral!”
The three men are all doing the same job.
What about you? What cathedral are you contributing to?
Life consists of light and shadow. There is no light without shadow and vice versa. When something unpleasant happens to us, we try to understand what we can learn from the shadow it casts.
We try to find the light.
There are people who make us light up, others who dazzle us and others who put us in the shade. Our guides and mentors light the way for us, they share their knowledge and pass on some of their light. They come into our lives and leave us a little brighter.
Then there are those who like to shine and others that dazzle us with who they are or what they do. All we see is the huge shadow in front of us produced by such a radiant light behind us.
It’s not always easy to tell the difference between the two, and we can learn from both. The question to ask yourself is what do you see after spending time with one or the other. Do you see more of your shadow or do you feel a bit brighter?
Kelly tells us that when she was finding it difficult to get about at the end of her pregnancy, her husband confronted her about her lack of activity, asking: “So what have you done all day?” Without batting an eyelid, she instantly replied, “I’ve grown an arm – what about you?”
I’d love to be able to come up with a smart reply like that.
Technically, she hadn’t actually grown an arm on that particular day, but she did explain to her husband that even though it looked like she was doing nothing, things had progressed below the surface.
This example could apply to most people’s daily lives. We don’t suddenly bring new, fantastic projects, ideas and babies into the world. We think, develop, nurture and refine most things over a certain period of time before telling other people about them.
What kind of arm are you currently growing below the surface? And what would you like to say to people who confront you about the time it takes for something to progress?