“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.”- Epictetus
Why write? Why draw? Why yoga? I’m in the process of reinvention (again). I must not be the only one thinking about this though because both the January issue of Psychology Today and the March issue of Outside magazine are about change and reinvention. Change in the self, change in the global workplace and change in how we define ourselves is in the wind. This sort of thing used to be devastating for those in past generations who really bought into the idea of a single lasting career for the husband, or a single husband for a wife. And, for some, this was a reality. For others, who built their personal identity around this external thing called “career” or “husband”, it was crushing.
I can’t romanticize that past too much, however, because as I get older and see how the 70’s and 80’s are romanticized now I can attest it was not ‘safer’ then to, for example, hitchhike around the country or for children to run free in the streets around the town. It wasn’t smaller then. It wasn’t simpler. People weren’t happier. There weren’t more fields of green (well, maybe there were more fields of green).
After my yoga class yesterday I did the usual: I dropped my towel and mat in the bins for cleaning, entered the locker room, searched briefly for my locker (as I almost always forget which one is exactly mine since they all look alike with digipads rather than individual locks), changed and went outside to unlock my bike. There was a girl on her phone with her back to me while I was minding my own business looking up the address to the New Movement Theater and getting out my lock keys.
"Hi!" she exclaimed enthusiastically with a bright smile, "I'm J - I was helping out in class today. How did you like class?"
"Oh, hey!" I returned and I thanked her for her assists.
The instructor had given a metaphor about his flowers looking kind of sad at home and how his mom told him he should just talk to his flowers to perk them up a bit. Like Masaru Emoto spoke to water, she suggested he speak to his plants.
I'm laying in my bed, awake, staring at the ceiling. The sun is up and peeking in my blinds. I want my book to focus my mind on something, but it's on the desk. I don't want to disturb the dogs by getting up and getting it.
To want. The implication of lacking or needing something outside the moment, that the moment is not perfect and to accidentally instill a cycle of dependency.
"I want to feel better."
"I want to be healed."
"I want that book."
"I want my mind to be still."
It is perfect, however, this moment. Everything is how and where it should be right now, right here, right in this moment.
If anyone has ever made me feel "normal" it is Nicolette Niman of Niman Ranch. Thats right, Ranch. Being a vegetarian from 8-24 years old, I am very good at cooking vegetables. Nicolette Niman wrote a book called Defending Beef. She also was a vegetarian. What made both of us change back was the resurgence of the family farm. (I highly recommend looking for her TED talks also btw which I have not seen, but if you don't have time for a book and want the cliffs notes, could be the way to go).
That all said, I am really liking the word 'inclusive'. My son and i had a conversation the other day about the Herbivorous Butcher and he said, "Yea, its a shame so many people hear the word 'vegan' and automatically think it's gross." It is unfortunate, isn't it? Yet most omnivores still don't really know where their animal products come from and that is perfectly OK. I wonder, are people just trying one thing one time and throwing that label on it? Are people just really unwilling to try because it's 'weird' stepping outside the ol' comfort zone? Whatever the reason is, I don't really care. I just find it strange and somewhat annoying. That said, we're going to do a little product sampling of this Herbivorous Butcher ... but it isn't because we aren't perfectly happy with the colorful variety of lovely vegetables! We are just going to try something new. And I cannot wait! All these little experiments and food adventures are kind of like Christmas morning.
Now back to the word 'inclusive'.
I have a friend who started a private school. Honestly, sometimes I think she started it because she is as outside the box as I am and equally as frustrated with the blind conformity. I mean the horrible lunches and school foods and the lack of eco consciousness. My kids couldn't even bring their own lunch boxes to their fine Naperville middle school. Each of my three children were given lunch boxes and in middles school each of them asked me to give them brown paper bags because of peer pressure which is exactly where our story gets complicated. You see, it is a cultural issue, not a policy issue. So, where were the adult supervisors? I don't know.
She told me that at their school they even offered a Christian bible study if the students were interested. Of course, they also offer meditation and crystal energy study and so on. The point is, they were inclusive ... despite the criticism from say, local Christians. Why is one party inclusive and another so afraid?
I have a lot of questions, don't I? I know. I wonder, do you have a lot of questions, dear reader? I bet you do. Well, there is hope. Tairi, the founder of the school, is creating her own answer and I am lucky enough to know her, despite our differences, and also interview her about how she found and created some of her own answers ...and I will be writing about it here, in the Peace Planet Journal.
Now, that complicated question of cultural issues is a sticky one isn't it? There are no easy answers, but we're tough. We don't need easy. We could settle with intelligent, however. Thats why I love the Herbivorous Butcher. They also are creating their own answers. Another dear friend of mine who was also sweet enough to let me interview her is Dianne Peterson. She and her husband Bob had lived in Sweden for a while. Bob, aka Robert Nishikawa, PhD, is a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. "He wants to save lives," she modestly says. They lived and he worked in Sweden and what she found was that the people there didn't know it was strange to ride their bikes in the rain, or haul their recyclables with a load of children in tow on bikes, or rush off to school or work ... even when late ... by bicycle. She said there was a saying, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. Is it equivalent to say, there are no such thing as bad people, just bad choices? There is a correlation between cancer and environment. We know this. What a downer, right?!
So, when will the cultural shift occur? What will we continue to tolerate? When will we say enough is enough? Yep. I do have a lot of questions, but I believe we have the answers. And I love it that so many people are out there creating their own answers.