You have the power to change the world. It won’t be a fast change. No overnight discovery of the solution to all of our problems. No instant awakening that will sweep through the masses. Nothing quite as Hollywood as that. But you have the power.
It starts like all things that last. It starts with the little things. The seeds that you plant each day. The ones that you choose to water with your conscious attention. The people that you nurture with your presence, that you embrace or shun, they will be the change you make in the world. And it is always happening, whether you are conscious of it or not. As you move through your days there is a never ending unfolding of the little actions you do that will send ripples down through the generations.
Every oak began as an acorn. Every impulse, every thought, every action and word leaves in its wake the pregnant possibility of what is to come. At a certain point in my life I realized that I needed to become a conscious gardener. I realized that the seeds that I sow each day will be the trees that will shade the world tomorrow. But sometimes the scope of that realization is too narrow. Sometimes it is chopped down to the scope of my life. Then it is divided even further: to my years, months, days, hours, minutes.
There is a desperation that arises for me when I spend too much time in such small time. I tend to forget that there is a bigger symphony going on: one that invites me to play a tune that is steady and true, even though it will continue with its crescendos and cadences once my part is over.
What emerges as true for me, what has substance and meaning, is the remembering that Life will continue well after I am gone, just as it has for timeless time. It is this awareness that inspires me to spend my days nurturing the brilliance I see in those that will continue long after I am gone. In the young ones that I now surpass by decades in age. In them the continuation of Life will be witnessed or its crushing descent will be brutally felt, then extinguished.
You have the power to change the world. And it starts not with you and your bills, your promotions, your mortgages, your vacations. It starts with the willingness to own that you play a part in what is to come.
How do I start honoring the work I am here to do in the world?
This is a big question for a lot of my clients. Many of them have succeeded in their respective fields: as educators, financial analysts, spiritual teachers, and academics. Despite their career successes they feel that there is something missing in their lives. It is a deep-rooted desire to be connected to the world in a meaningful way. So, how do we start honoring our lives by bringing our gifts to the world we live in?
The answer is in the question itself. We start be becoming aware of the fact that our life is our gift. All of the collected experiences that we have hold a value that is priceless and often overlooked. As we grow in this society that says that we need to find fulfillment through external achievement we lose sight of the fact that our greatest achievement is our lives. Regardless of what your financial, professional and personal life looks like, there is wisdom that you can share with others through the challenges you have faced. You are here. You are alive in this moment, and that is the ultimate gift.
In the years that you have been on this Earth you have experienced things in a way that no other person ever has. Those that come after us would benefit greatly from the gift of those experiences. The world changes one person at a time, one interaction at a time. When we are willing to interact with others from a place of authenticity and vulnerability we are clearing the path for them. We teach through our stories and our actions in a way that provides alternatives on how to proceed through similar challenges to the ones we have faced.
With each interaction a seed is planted, one that will grow when nourished and will bear fruit in the generations that follow us. On a long enough timeline the duration of our lives becomes irrelevant. What matters, what remains, is that we were willing to encourage growth in the following generations by sharing our life experiences. You honor your life by openly sharing what you have learned with other people. Regardless of how you are personally benefitted by this, and you are, you will extend the meaningful moments of your life by passing on the seeds of wisdom that you have gained by overcoming the challenges you have faced.
Pursue what makes you feel alive
The things that make you feel alive are your allies. They are the pathways to gaining a deeper understanding of who you are, but they are also the examples for others that teach them how to value the gift of living. While they may not lead to financial gain at first glance, they are the things that inspire you to live from a deeply-centered well of inspiration.
In a recent post I wrote about James Hillman’s acorn theory. Like Hillman says, our life-long dreams and passions are deeply embedded in us from birth. They find a way to arise in our lives over and over again. (If you didn’t have the chance to read that post you can find it here.) When you give yourself wholeheartedly to what you love you will attract people to you that have the same passion. These people will not have the same experience as you, and they will benefit greatly from hearing what the path has taught you.
Invariably you will find young ones that cross your path and they will be hungry for the knowledge and wisdom embedded in your life’s experiences. It is not only a choice to share these things with them. It is a responsibility. It is through this communal giving that the works of your life will go on to take root in the greater scheme of Life. When seeking to find purpose in who you are and what you do, know that your tools for doing so are already there. They are shared through your story, through your actions, through the teaching you impart in those that will carry them on.
Sharing what you are passionate about is the most crucial thing you can do to honor the gift of being alive. Take this as an action step. Go out and dedicate yourself to the things that you love with a willingness to teach others what you have learned. It doesn’t matter if it is fishing, investing, creating art, making medicine, dancing or telling a good story. Your craft manifests as you pursue it, and it is fine-tuned when you share it.
The young people in our lives are, like many of us, starving for a human connection that acknowledges the beauty of being alive. When we take it upon ourselves to be emissaries of life by sharing what we have lived we start shifting a paradigm that says we are not enough. We take back the sacredness of having spent our twenty, thirty, forty or even (and especially) eighty years of living. Nothing that you have lived has been in vain. All of it is part of a larger current of living that needs you to be witnessed, exalted, and fully appreciated.
What can I do today?
Start by asking someone what he is passionate about. Ask him to give you details about it. How does he feel when he does it? How does she grow when she pursues it? How has she overcome the challenges that have come up along the way? It doesn’t matter what the thing is. It matters that it is witnessed. Even if you do not share the interest take time to encourage it like a precious gem. When you are asked “What about you?” it is your turn to share yours. Share it with the awareness that even the imperfections, the idiosyncrasies, the chips and cracks are beautiful because they collectively carry the story of you. When you make this a regular practice you are no longer living idly, you are changing the world.
*Originally published as Inlak'ech Transpersonal Coaching