I’ve been trying to find the inspiration I needed to properly convey the topic of this weeks chat. I wanted to talk about the steps we take: sometimes premeditated, and other times, spontaneous. The steps we remember as being pivotal, and those we plan to take in upcoming days, weeks… and so on. What guides our steps? And where have they lead us- or where are they going to take us?
I found inspiration in some noisy neighbors, my neighbors in the “triple decker” house I’ve been living in for about 5 years. I talked to them a couple days ago about some ongoing repairs needed in the building, and how, like me, she doesn’t always feel like we’re taken seriously. I’m thinking of taking a step toward being a property manager for landlords who just don’t want to deal with it. Unplanned step, spontaneous! Those can be really fun!
One of the best steps I ever took was moving to New York. It didn’t seem like a great thing at the time, but through the struggle, it lead to a different version of me that I am really proud of.
These steps take us somewhere- either straight forward or off to the side. Straight forward may seem like the best option but these side quests give us lessons, knowledge, wisdom which helps our later steps take good direction.
There are so many different things that influence the steps we take- and sometimes it feels like a battle to choose which one. But, today, as we stand, what steps do we remember taking that make us proud, and where do we see our steps heading now?
Author bio: I’m always super awkward with bios and have no business or brand to promote (yet!), but if anyone wants to follow me I’m @merryb923 pretty much everywhere you look!
Kumud’s note: Meredith has been part of the #SpiritChat community for a very long time, and has hosted the chat a few times. I am grateful and excited that she has agreed to host #spiritchat on twitter on Sunday, Dec 18 at 9amET / 2pmGMT / 730pm India. Do join in and share… Thank you, Meredith! Namaste.
Sometimes, all it takes is a few drops of early morning rain falling on you as you walk, to erase the heaviness that you have inadvertently awakened to, despite a good night’s sleep. Little that you realize that the drops are actually harbingers of a drenching which is on the way!
The weekly Friday walk around the lake is colored with a wonderful cool breeze that precedes the warm front bringing a couple of forecasted hot days after some unseasonal coolness. The tree almost sound like the beginning of autumn. The lake surface is agog with waves rippling against the heavy, inch-thick layers of algae, which has taken over two thirds of the lake surface. I pause and lean against the wooden cow-fence, as the seeds of the river-birches welcome me back in much delight and ask – where have you been all week? Why don’t you visit more often? The four wooden and weathered steps in front of me invite me to come closer, so for the first time ever, I accept and sit on then last one step, where if I stretched my legs out, they would touch the grasses growing on the edge. A single goose flies over from the grassy knoll and joins me, loudly announcing the weather coming in as the wind picks up a couple of notches. I wonder if I should head back, to heed the warning of the heavy rain in its way, but I decide to press on. The forest cover will take care of me, I perhaps wrongly presume. In addition, what else do I have to do on this Friday morning?
The same rose-bush that be-friended me last week, grabs my shirt again as i walk by, reminding me of our budding friendship. The tree-lined part of the trail is still heavy with mud, what with all the rain of the past week and the now heavily dense leaf-canopy that prevents the sun from reaching the ground. I pause at the bend, as the swift breeze calms down for a bit, breathing in all the goodness created by the stillness and the soft murmurings of the fledglings from the depth of the forest. More seedlings fall on me on their way to the earth.
If and when we open all of our sense receptacles to it, without any filters, and embrace all of the diversity of the world around us if only for a few moments, it can help lighten our world within. Yes, it is said that what we see in the world around us is a reflection of the state of our world within, and yet, until we get to that stage, the outer can help bring peace to the inner. The diversity of the outer tableau is designed, often by our own selves through our seeking, to fulfill our greatest inner needs. Perhaps that is why some love the water, others the forests, and some are attracted to the mountains, and even the skies.
No matter what aspect of diversity we are attracted to as individuals, they are all necessary in order to meet the need of the hour or season of each individual. Why else would there exist millions of species of plants and animals, with their variations in behaviors in different seasons, if not to remind us of the necessity of diversity and the infinite possibilities of the universe? Does nature not mirror the need for the infinite diversity of humans in the human race, and serve as a reminder that there would be annihilation of any society that is intolerant of its diversity?
Imagine a toolbox with only one tool in it, say, a screw-driver. Can you build a house with it? Imagine eating the same breakfast every single day. How healthy would that be? Imagine having only a single vowel in the alphabet. What kind of communication would be possible? Would we able to write prose and poetry without diversity of vowels? Imagine.
Progress in love, and towards light, is only possible through our embrace of diversity. The diverse streams of life that flow within us, when they mingle with each other, become the universal ocean. Is it not that when we commit to the work of finding the unity within our diversity, that we come closer to the experience of Oneness?
As I walk under the canopy of tall trees on the trail, pausing occasionally to write this post, the rain is getting increasingly heavier. My phone’s screen is filling with droplets of all sizes, varying from about a hundredth of an inch to about an eight of an inch in diameter. The beauty of this impromptu canvas is perhaps living testament that diversity creates peace and beauty. It’s a long way back to the car, so I find a tree with a heavy leaf cover, and try and ride out the downpour. As I wait for the rain to lighten, I am filled with a rush of gratitude for the fact that no matter the season, the diversity of nature has always embraced me, whenever I have visited with it.
Maybe it is in the unconditional embraces of nature where I have learnt my best diversity lessons. How about you?
P.S. Do join us for our community gathering in our weekly twitter chat, Sunday, May 22 at 9am ET in #SpiritChat. We are a diverse group indeed, and are welcoming of all as we chat over tea and cookies. Namaste – @AjmaniK
Welcome to the first post in our ‘mid-week’ series of guest posts by #spiritchat members, tentatively categorized, “spiriflections”. I hope that you enjoy the author’s efforts, and maybe even contribute a comment (to encourage them) and/or contribute to this series in the future. Thank you. – Kumud
Spirituality at the Movies – by David Tumbarello
I sat in the dark theater and watched a beautiful movie about growth and strength. About battling demons, learning about sacrifice, and learning about love. The main character began the story literally and figuratively without a body. She was also soul-less. By the end of the first act, she was given a body. After battling a demon, this replacement body was destroyed and she was given a second, upgraded body. This one was more mature and she integrated with this one far better than the first. In a moment, she “leveled up”. Due to her desire to fight for justice, she acquired accessories that integrated with her body. She brought these accessories to battle and “leveled up” once more.
I sat down the other day to watch another movie, this one twelve years in the making. During those 12 years, the protagonist grows from a boy to a man. As a six year old, he rides a bike, and then as a 16 year old drives a car, and when he graduates from high school, he drives off to the university. His parents divorce, they remarry, and divorce again. He struggles with his classes and learns he is an artist. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes 12 years for him to be okay with his art. It also takes 12 years for him to grow from boyhood into something close to being an adult.
I think about maturation versus leveling up. For me, spirituality does not fit with the model of a person leveling up. A spiritual deposit today will not increase the size of my spiritual bank account tomorrow. My deposit today, however, may contribute to my growth.
It has been said, “When you open your heart and mind up to allowing yourself to experience the doubts, tension, and discomforts associated with facing fears and making changes, you allow the possibility for real growth to occur.” Should we shy away from pain, discomfort, loss, and fear? If our mindset is growth, we should find ways to embrace these difficulties because in their purest form, they are not barrier but rather gates to growth.
I recall sitting in therapy one afternoon and the therapist and I talked about trying out new behaviors. She turned to me and said, “It’s a stretch.” She wasn’t asking that I change overnight or level up. She was asking that I consider doing something just a bit outside my comfort zone. Something that would stretch my self-care muscles. Something that would help me grow.
As I write today, I embrace my flaws, blemishes, bruises, and aches. Even with these spiritual difficulties, I aspire. Without them, how would I stretch? How would I grow? I write today to address spiritual weakness. For me, writing today is a stretch. I address weakness and with this stretch, I grow. Will I have aches? Yes. Will I stretch and grow? Absolutely.
And when you mature, when you truly grow, others around you will notice and in the right circumstances they are changed as well. You change, they change. Would you want it any other way?
David Tumbarello is a technical communicator with over 50 years in the growth industry, with 49 of those years communicative and on two feet. When he is not technically communicating, he enjoys hiking, biking, and writing. Feel free to connect with David on LinkedIn.
Change is always changing. A circular statement? Although it is, change is never static. The impact of change on individuals, families, colleagues, and citizens is unsettling and welcome. We begin to see the dichotomy of change. Some change we like, and other changes we do not.
Change can wear on us or enliven us. More than either of these options, we may end up talking more about change than changing. Talking is easy. Change takes action.
A famous Mahatma Gandhi quote is “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” The words are inspiring. “Be the change” has evolved into an almost static moment. Just be, and all will be fine!
“Be the change” is much more. I believe it means that we need to act on the change we wish to see. We need to be the example we want to see.
The standard of “be the change” rises. More than just one person –
What if one person gathered 20 others to facilitate change?
What if one person helped 20 people?
What if each of the 20 individuals engaged in change or being helped by another then did the same?
The power of change multiplies when we join with others and then they do the same. Picture this. Twenty people standing in a circle holding hands. On top of each grasped hand, another hand connected with another 20 individuals connected in a circle. And then again and again. What you visualize is the concentric power of 20 people facilitating change.
Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist, said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Twenty people is a small group. Twenty people, energized by one, can energize a community.
We can be the change, or we can rise to another level. We can act on the change we want to see.
Being present is a starting point. From here, we need to act with the passion of change and the compassion of understanding the change required to make a positive impact. A positive impact is a community growing, serving, and making lives better.
Enabling a thriving community is not complicated; it is hard. We can never let the challenges hold us back. Instead, we need to rise up to the challenge for the sake of our communities and character.
Join us for a #SpiritChat conversation about change and community. As part of this conversation, consider starting a small project of change within your community on January 20th. A grassroots initiative started called #One20. The goal: On Inauguration Day, let’s make it a day of doing good works. Let’s show our better side by doing good where we are. Let us act on the change we what to see and experience. Learn more at One20.today and on the One20Today Facebook page.
Ajmanik’s Note: I am so very excited to host my long-time friend Jon Mertz in our weekly #SpiritChat twitter chat on Sunday, January 15th at 9am ET/2pm UTC. Jon’s theme of a ‘call to action’ to create change is a perfect example of “Karma Yoga” – the practice of Yoga through ‘Karma’ or action. Do join me (@AjmaniK) and Jon (@ThinDifference) this Sunday!