“ We cannot change the world,
but by opening ourselves to the world as it is,
we may find that gentleness, decency and bravery are available,
not only to us, but to all human beings.”
Tibetan Buddhist master Chögyam Trungpa
Margareth Wheatley’s books are a source of inspiration to me. And this lead to the decision to join her learning journey to South-Africa, October 2011. (See my pictures in “Albums & Examples”)
With a group of 24 women, we visited “hummingbirds”: people, projects, places, communities that were showing leadership in complex situations. The visits inspired us, but also provoked lots of questions about: What leadership is necessary? What really changes the situation? Where lies our influence as changemakers, idealists, women, human beings? On the first day they showed this movie:
We met many brave hummingbirds,
but if I was honnest with myself: I was still searching for a way to extinguish the fire. And that is what I learned in South-Africa: it’s not possible, it’s not within our human capacity (and invitation) and maybe (and these words I only dare to whisper”) “it’s not what is needed, the human experience has a story and needs time to unfold at it’s own pace”.
So then we just accept the injustice? (the rebel in myself was shouting loud)
For me these 2 weeks were an initiation into “witnessing”.
Amazing journey, but so challenging, leaving me empty and silent, without ideals and identity. I had to re-create from scratch, my narrative about the crossroad between my talents & ambitions and the needs of the world. But especially about what “can” be done, what “should” be done and why. When I expressed that at the end of the journey, I remember Meg telling me “stay in the unknown, in that space in between, don’t try to get out of it because it feels uncomfortable, let the new narrative emerge by itself”
Meg’s years long work and exploration, combined with this learning journey lead to her new book, So far from home.
It’s not a “happy” book, but it is a very “important” book!! Gave me a lot of clarity about the faith of changemakers: People working in change, driven by idealism and ambition, often from a frustration about how things go.
Meg calls them “warriors of the human spirit”. With compassion, patience, discernment, courage & effectiveness as their “weapons”/skills.
“The warrior’s path is unusual, because it is not going anywhere, sometimes described as the path without a goal. We are not hoping to arrive somewhere; our only aspiration is to stay on the path itself.”
Hope is the pitfall in change-work and my biggest learning edge is to let go of hope. Hope is irresistible, we hope to change things, to have an impact, to be rewarded, … but it makes us dependent of outcomes, and expectation is premeditated disappointment. I learned this the hard way.
“How can we replace hope of creating change with confidence that we are doing the right work?”
What can I do?:
- refrain from adding to the fear & aggression of this time
- see and accept the world as it is
- keep faith
- invite others to do the same
This is what I try to do now, every day. And tomorrow…I’ll try again.