Is It Possible to Change the World?
I do not have biological children, but I have hundreds of children. They include my step kids, nieces and nephew. They include the students I worked with while I was in college In some ways, they include the teams of men and women I am privileged enough to work with each day. My wife and I fuss a little, but we love each other more than anything else in the world, and that provides an anchor in troubled waters. I am a leader in an exciting, growing, and progressive company that is changing the industry of express tunnel car washing. There is a blog, there is a book, and there is a card and gift company, all designed with the intent of helping others. And as simple as it sounds, there is Audible, Netflix, and Spotify. Life is good.
And while looking back on what brought me here, I would like to share a little story about one evening before sleep, that found me wondering how I ended up where I was in life. It was one of the few times in my life that I felt connected to the Divine in a way that I could hear it speak. That I could feel its consolation. That I gave into optimism and allowed something that did not makes sense at the time change my mind. It is what I continue to strive for today, but in that moment, it was real in a way that I could smell, breath, feel, and taste. And it all happened on an ordinary night, just before resting.
My life had been filled with what might be considered ups and downs. I had made money and lost money, had been married and had gone through divorce, had been respected and had been dismissed, had been sure of all that is good in life and suffered the desperation of not knowing if life was worth living. And more recently, had taken a job without benefits, at a low hourly wage, with hours that were subject to the weather, and that required so much physical work that I had little energy to do much when I came home. I had quit learning. I had quit drawing. I had quit doing the things that I had always enjoyed. One more time, just as the many other times before, I laid down in my bed and prayed a prayer of thanks, and fought the temptation to complain.
From any outside point of view, there was little hope for a goodness to come of my career choices. There was little worth in study, art, or enjoyment of simple things. It was in this moment that I gave up trying to find a better way. It was in this moment that I had an experience that I remember each day. There was a peace that came over me. When I say, “came over me”, I mean exactly that. It was a comfort that came with the assurance that I was where I was supposed to be. The assurance, that though I could not see the next step on the path I was on, the path I was on, led to greater things than I could imagine. The secret I had missed was not that my life would be better, but that life was better.
The promise of goodness heard that night has not been fulfilled. It is not that there will ever be a fulfillment of a promise of things being better. It is not that I learned to be grateful for what I have in relation to what others possess. The peace I felt that night, is the peace I feel this morning, and is knowing that no matter where I am, any direction is possible. I have permission to enjoy what I am now, where I am now, and to imagine any outcome to any situation. And with that permission, I enjoy who I have become. With that permission, I imagine great things for myself, others, and even the world.
And what would I say to you? How might I encourage you to enjoy life? Worry not for what others think. Let the praise and criticism of others take the same path as they roll off your back. You and your Creator have great things in mind for you, and quite frankly, those that cannot see great things for themselves certainly cannot appreciate your dreams as possibilities. This is not their fault. I might even encourage you to help others see great things for themselves. I have heard that our thoughts are magnets and attract similar actions from the Universe. While I have no evidence to suggest this is true, or untrue, I do know that there are enough critics in the world without you speaking negative words into your mind about yourself or others.
As for me? My path is my own. I am content noticing the flowers along its side, rather than constantly looking behind or ahead. Sometimes I clear my mind and sometimes I openly receive every thought my brain throws my way. The only thing I have learned, is that regardless of how permanent we think a thing is, it is subject to change. We can be agents of change or we can be resistors to change, but whether we are moving with the motion of creation or holding on to ideas we formed in our youth, creation is moving. Rightfully so, creation can be thought of as both what was created and what is being created. We would not ask a river to stop so that we might cross, and in the same way, we cannot ask creation to cease so that we might enjoy this or that moment in time.
I am pressing on. Blog posts, coffee with friends, time spent with family, meditations, and any other activity are just resting points in a journey through creation. If I am down, I will get up. If I am scorned, I will forgive. If I am uneasy, I will create peace. And if I am tempted to give up hope, I will remember that night before sleep. There is a newness to each day. There is a newness to the us that greets that day. We may not change the world. We may not see peace in our lifetime. We can change our world. We can create peace in ourselves. In that way, we help others do the same.
And for those that design and fight wars? Let them be. For those that backbite and spread hate? Let them be. For those that would doubt the goodness of the Divine, let that be between them and the divine. It is for us to treat others well, create love, and know that the same energy that allows us to smile in a room full of frowning faces, is available to the owners of every frowning face. Our gift to the world may not be delivered by a great foundation we founded. Our contribution may not change the way food is delivered to remote areas of the world. What we can do, each day, is greet the dawn with hope, gratitude, a warm welcome, and with an expectation that somehow, the opportunity we see to show kindness, will be met with a giving of kindness, in some small way.
And that, is what will change the world. That is what will change our worlds.