I experience that most people believe they know, know another, know why a person acts this way or that, know what causes someone to do something, know why they feel a certain way, know… However, we cannot know.
Even when it is our children, parents, family or close friends, we cannot know. The journey of each single human being is unique. How we experience life, interpret what happens, react and live is completely individualistic.
Why then do we spend so much time trying to persuade another to think like we do? Convince them of living a certain way? Doing things the way we want?
What would the world be like if we accepted, valued and honored each individual for exactly who they are? Allowing them to BE, free of judgment and coercion.
I chuckle at this thought, for I am not sure we can do it. It seems to be an intrinsic behavior to seek like minded souls and if we don’t find them to try hard to make someone become more like us.
I freely admit I am very guilty of this behavior. Passionately so in my early twenties, I was eager to convince all who would listen that we should eat healthy, exercise, care about the environment, etc…. Of course I still have my strong personal feelings about life, how I prefer to live, what I like to do and to whom I like to share time with. However, I have come to understand that I cannot know, ever.
I find this to be wonderful, for it means I will always get to hear a different story. Learn something new. Look at something from a different perspective. It keeps the world interesting. It also means I get to be ME, freely with delight.
I invite you to play with this idea –
Ask a sibling or friend to share about an experience you both participated in – notice the differences and similarities.
Talk with a colleague about something you both attended, same time and place – did they experience the same things?
Explore memories with your partner/spouse, friend, children…?
It can be eye opening to learn how differently we each experience the world. We can never KNOW what another feels or experiences.
It was clammy and cool, causing goosebumps to rise. The walls were a blend of rocks, dirt and moisture. The floor had hardened over time, an uninviting place to sit. My “little grandpa,” who was actually my great grandpa, had to duck to get down in there with me, but, he was always willing to humor me for a while. It was one of my favorite places on the farm, for it was home to the squishy little salamanders I enjoyed befriending. Early summer was the best time to be in there, for it was refreshing and the root vegetables from the last harvest were gone. The tiny little dark root cellar was just one of the wonders that remains tucked in my childhood memory bank.
As a toddler I frolicked around my great grandpa’s farm. I called him my “little grandpa”, for his son, who was much taller and broader, got nick-named “big grandpa”. In my little mind the names made total sense and became the endeared titles for them as my siblings arrived one by one.
I absolutely loved my little grandpa’s farm. It sat in a small community in southern Michigan. A miniature piece of land that felt gigantic to my young adventurous spirit. It was full of wonders and places to explore. Thankfully my little grandpa humored my tagging along, even though it was hard for my stubby legs to keep up.
Like the seeds my great grandma would plant every spring in the garden, the farm memory rooted itself in me. I can still feel the gentle flow of life there, the seasons and the wonders of the land in its gracious life giving abundance.
Dear ole Rastis was my easy-going four legged best friend. He was a striking mix of black and white soft fur and just the right height for me to use as a balancing tool. Best of all he let me take care of him, kindly receiving my offered meal of rocks. It was a good thing I did not know until years later, that when I was not looking he would spit them out.
The other day as I reviewed the COVID-19 numbers around the world, it struck me again, how the hotbeds for the virus seem to be the densely populated areas. This led me to thinking about the human’s movement from living on the land, to occupying high rises. The shift from an agricultural species to an industrialized machine. As the years have flown by, we become even more disconnected from our roots with the land. For me, this recent world situation poignantly shares the ripple effect of our choices in so many ways.
The small farmer that has survived the onslaught of monster mono-crop farming, can still go out his/her door today to co-create an existence with the land. If necessary, they can generate a way to survive and get by during challenging times. Whereas, the individual sitting on the 39th floor of a high rise is limited with their ability to provide for themselves or their family. They are dependent upon the interwoven “advanced” lifestyle we have established over time.
Business as usual is non-existent as I type these words. We are being offered a magnified view of the infrastructure we have chosen to co-create. The closing of daily business as we know it has created a tsunami effect on the unemployment lines. What will the long term impacts be? How have our priorities and choices impacted us and the future?
I don’t know about you, but, thoughts of the small farm life prick my curiosity. The ability to wisely provide for my family, share bounty with others and create a community that ebbs and flows with the land, seems very inviting. A few years ago, I enjoyed the opportunity to work on a local organic farm, it was a sweet time that re-ignited my childhood memories. I never slept better than during that time, my body physically tired, my spirit full with a solid sense of important accomplishment. Ironically, I could not feed my family on the income I received, thus, I found myself back in the city working behind a desk. Personally, I find this backwards, for providing healthy nourishing food seems to be one of the most important life giving professions that exist.
Many years ago I discovered a book that really stirred my thoughts about sustainable living – “Solviva – How To Grow $500,000 On One Acre & Peace On Earth,” by Anna Edey. Here was a single woman, like myself, going for it, trusting in herself and the land. She presented some interesting images for a “livable future” that really piqued my imagination (see above image), what if, we actually became that smart. Recently, I found myself exploring another sustainable way of living, Earthships. What if we actually started to think about our quality of life and how to create a better future for our children and the generations to come after that. We are creative, perseverant, compassionate, resilient beings when we decide that’s how we want to be… Like Edison, Einstein, the Wright Brothers, and any one else who had an idea, anything is possible if we believe, keep trying, learn from our mistakes and stay open to new ideas. After all, you are reading this on a tool that certainly did not exist when I was young.
I continue to wonder will we use this COVID-19 world experience to make changes that honor our inter-relationship with the land?
Or pretend nothing happened?
Will we wish to respect and cultivate a new way of being upon the planet?
Or ignore all the valuable insights we have gained?
What if, we did not “return to normal,” instead we decide to co-create a “fresh new start.” A way of living upon this planet which sets it up to thrive for generations to come…