Who Are You? What Have You Learned? What Difference Have You Made?

MaidI saw Oprah, on several occasions, pick a person from her audience and ask them for a short version of their story: “Who were they, what had they learned, what difference had they made?” Powerful stuff, I know, because friends and I co-published a small, community newspaper for 12 years, and whenever we posed those questions, something incredible happened.

Because we cared enough to ask, their hearts and minds opened and they blew us away with their experiences, insights and plans. We filled an issue with the answers of people we asked those same questions: Who are you? What have you learned? What difference have you made? The heart-responses of a maid we came upon cleaning a large public restroom were as significant and inspirational as the governor’s.

Those really are the important questions, aren’t they? We can change any conversation to a communication with them. We yearn for true connections, we want to bring down our walls–but these are really scary times. While that is true, fear and hopelessness are mind-bullies that can turn birthday balloons into hot-air balloons—and toss us about as if they are in charge.

Did you ever tell anyone, “You’re not the boss of me!” That’s what we’ve got to do with fear and hopelessness: “Scram! Out! I’m the boss of me!” Maybe then we can take a virtual hammer to our ‘protection’ walls and actually go somewhere to do something for someone else. We’ll have made a difference for another and have the satisfaction earned by giving.

Isn’t it really something that God created all of us and needs every single one of us–that we all matter? We may think we don’t matter, but we couldn’t be more wrong. We are loved beyond measure as individuals, and what He/She most needs is our insight, our cooperation and our service. I picture God looking down on Earth and smiling at the light and sparkling colors where we’ve each laid in our own small piece of His cosmic patchwork of Light.

We Were Made For These Times, A Guest Post by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Clouds WavesMy friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

Full post: Here

Will We Wear the White Hat or the Black Hat?

DNA GuySometimes I think of each of us as a storybook. Some of us are like the indestructible, hard cardboard books we give to little ones after they can sit up. Some of us are like the soft, padded plastic-covered first books that float in the tub. Some are long, complicated books like War and Peace, others of us are like a tender romance with a happy ending. Still others of us are mysteries, even to ourselves. 🙂 And just as story-plots can twist and turn and surprise us, what is coded in our DNA can do the same.

So, what is coded in our DNA?

I suppose a portion of it is the sum total of all of us, that the memories of all human experience are inside each of us. And then there is that which makes you, you, and me, me. This is likely how we all know both good and evil. Within us are both the higher expressions of humanity that call to us like soul-stirring music, and the shadow-self which pummels and tempts us, reminds us that we are low-lifes who should stop fighting and submit.

We are complicated and so is life, yet it unfolds in logical stages pretty much the same for all of us. We’re born, we grow up, we become adults who produce, climb the hill, reach the top aging all the while, grow old and then we die. The first time I read “from the day we are born, we march toward death,” I felt like I’d been slapped in the face. But it’s true.

Though our life spans are pretty limited, our possibilities are not. Our DNA potential is not the end of the story—it’s the beginning of our story, for we are the writers of our own screenplays. While it’s probably true that every possible variation of the human story has already been written, we still get to choose the settings of our lives, the characters in them, our dilemmas and our solutions. What will be the thrust of our lives? Each of us must answer that for ourselves. Will we wear the white hat or the black hat? Will we create a loving family, or an empire built on the backs of others? Will we mostly give or mostly take? Will God be in our lives or, for the time being, will we go it alone?

We are built to tap the universe from within and live extraordinary lives. We humans are like new buds on a rose bush—pretty colors, but tightly wrapped. When we unfold into the best we can be, we find the beauty of the entire universe in the perfect rose that is us.

Making Peace or Making Trouble?

Have you ever wondered what makes you tick? Why some days everything works and on others, it all goes wrong? Do you share your smile easily with others or keep your head down? Do you see some part of yourself in other humans or keep yourself separate? Do you feel you are greater than or less than? Are you certain of your opinions or is there room for reflection? Are you making peace or trouble as you live out your days?

Do you wonder if there is a greater plan? Do you believe goodness is at work in the universe? How about evil? Have you seen your own higher self? Your shadow self? Have you been an instrument of goodness? of darkness?

When the time comes for you to leave your body and cross to the other side, what do you hope people will say about you? What do you want your legacy to be? Are you old enough to have noted that ‘time flies’?

There is so much more to each of us than meets the eye. Let’s use our time on Earth to focus on healing and tolerance and become peacemakers.