I just want to write something short and sweet that will change the world.
This is what comes to me as I sit down, iced coffee in front of me on a little brown table in a country whose language I don’t yet speak.
I intended to write of other things, of being a foreigner in a strange land, about how every single moment is a (valuable, brutal) reminder that I am a bundle of conditionings and habit patterns, to the point where sometimes it’s hard to see if anything else is even there.
I wanted to put into words how I feel powerless in the face of escalating violence in parts of the world deeply embedded in my history.
I face obliteration in this way, daily and often in each moment—and know that this inevitability of annihilation has always been there, whether I was tuned into the fact or not. Yet, I sit down, in a pair of jean shorts that make me feel young and a bit reckless, at home and free, and the sun is not going anywhere for awhile, and the rains have passed.
In this fleeting moment of lightness I experience here and now, in my little pocket of the planet, the phrase comes:
I want to change the world.
I want to write something that is a perfect little pearl whose colors are pastel and shimmery and infinite; I want to write something monumental in its simplicity, and life-changing.
It’s amazing how we can go back and forth between feeling humbled and beaten down, and exuberant about wanting to effect change. (Thoughts flit across my mind, about the Western emphasis on progress and individual achievement as opposed to the Eastern focus on groups and community, and even about the beauty pageants I used to watch, in which contestants effortlessly lay claims to an ability to end world hunger and create world peace, and wonder how much all of of this has made me).
There is no feeling of superiority behind this wish, no sense that I want the world to bend and conform to my way of thinking and being, that I know what is right.
The world, like our own bodies, our own selves, has its own internal rhythm, and wisdom, and if given a chance it will tend toward surviving and thriving, no matter detours are undertaken, no matter the severity of storms hurtling through.
“Wanting to change the world”—where does this come from? I am not no-one in the world, but nor am I on one side of a fence where I can generate change on the other.
I am in the world, I breathe its air, I love within its space, and sometimes I scream and yell and throw my resistances right at it.
The world takes this, is this, shapeshifts according to all our screams, all our passions, and all the expressions of us in between.
Change yourself, change the world. It takes a village. These are not original thoughts, as they come to me now and feel relevant. My wisdom is not momentous, and it doesn’t have to be.
Everything about the world is my teacher; everything I want to see changed (the wars raging everywhere, the heart-breaking sufferings), a reflection of a mind too divided.
Or just divided enough. I can see the pieces, which means I can weave them together into something new.
I don’t want to change the world. The words, the thought, are an expression of my deepest love for this space we inhabit, a love that threatens to spill over in over-abundance now and then, as I fumble along, wildly in the dark, in tingly anticipation of the magic I will experience and the morbid fear that I might break entirely.
What I wanted to write today was not about changing the world, but about throwing myself open, gaping wide into it, reaching out to all of us fragile beings who can meet, really meet in all the spaces that have not yet been occupied by hard, unforgiving things, and bathe the whole world in embrace.
Change is the law of nature. Everything changes, all the time. We don’t have to wish it, will or, or control it or be terrified of it.
Being in the world, in full acknowledgement, is the most fundamental change there is.
In full presence, everything gets clear and then nothing but love is possible. This is the logic and beauty of things.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Author’s Own