Considering change, from the inside – out.
Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has…”
What does changing the world mean?
How does one go about doing so? How does one quantify, qualify change? Is it even measurable?
While many of us intuitively understand the power of internal change, we are often pre-occupied by examining external changes, ones that can be neatly measured, categorized and owned. This morning by happenstance, I met an American man who is now a Franciscan Monk at the Bagel Barn in Antigua. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: “ What does being a monk mean to you?”
Monk Rock (seriously, that was the name he gave me): “It’s my path to salvation”.
Me: “ What is salvation?”
Monk: “It’s place there isn’t any more suffering”.
Me: “ I choose to see beauty in this world, not suffering.”
Monk: “If everyone would see the world like you, there would be no suffering”.
Ah… I thought to myself. Now, that is measurable change I’d like to experience in the world. On many levels, this is a change, a choice that is pretty automatic for me now. I experience it in myself, the beauty, the amazement of the world around me. PollyAnna-ish? I’ve certainly been accused of that before, but this also happens to be my preference.
Last night I was chatting online with a good friend in San Fransisco. He was telling me how great the iPad is, how the iPad is responsible for changing interaction design, in sorta TNG fashion. (Remember that device Data uses….. or was it Geordi, don’t remember now…) Being that my previous career before I became an eye-wide-optimist-world-traveler, I was once a committed technophile creative type and this analogy certainly reached me.
I considered the idea that this one product, this one burst of inspiration transformed into a physical product, this consumable trend has the power to influence a shift of the way we design our experiences.
Couldn’t this be an analogy for life?
Our eyes are small, but capable of seeing enormous things. The question is, which way do we focus? We have the ability to focus on the bad or the good in one another. We have the ability to focus on the outward world or the inward world, both capable of being filled with peace and joy. Our eyes are capable of seeing both, but it seems to be a matter of choice.
In my mind at least.
Certainly, external changes are required for the world to progress but when coupled with an inner transformation, they affect the world in a radically different way.
I have seen a result of this inward change reflecting into the outward world through passion and inspiration in those around me.
I’ve seen it in the the many volunteers that we’ve met on our travels.
I’ve seen this in the locals who have shared their deep commitment to their faith and traditions.
I have seen this in many of the travelers who are traveling from a place of inspiration.
Yes, I’ve met inspired travelers.
I repeat, I’ve met MANY inspired travelers, and not just the typical backpackers type who hang out in hostels with their expensive gadgets, who complain about not having 24 hour convenience stores nearby or the ability to get good sushi in Latin America. (I’ve heard other complaints I’m too embarrassed to share here, because I’d have to admit we were born in the same country.)
I have met inspired travelers.
Like my friend Christopher, who was inspired to walk from Los Angeles to Brazil, meditating on the prayers of others. Or like Jamie who was inspired to ride his bike around the world for the last 7 years in order to combat fears, his and others and Pedal for Peace. Or like Roxanne, who has a passion for helping women in conflict zones to help them find their inner strength. Or like David, who have given up his life in California to collaborate and build sustainable communities that are open to all. Or like Hanna, who decided to leave Sweden to experience three continents on her bicycle and traveling in an eco friendly way. Or Shannon who has left her comfortable home, family, boyfriend in the United States to work with children in a garbage dump in Guatemala, to contribute, to give a part of herself. Or like Crystal, a school teacher from the Bay Area, who has spent every vacation for a good part of her career volunteering around the world working with children and animals alike.
I have met many, many, in fact countless others who are all seeing the beauty in the world and acting upon their inner changes.
We all find inspiration in different places.
We all access that point of change from different perspectives. Going “in” for some, means traditional meditation. For others find access through nature.
This is why Gandhi spent each Monday in silence, why Martin Luther King Jr. prayed twice as much on busy days, and Cesar Chavez practiced Yoga regularly.
For me, it’s feeling the love in my heart, traveling and being playful with my son, Miro. This is the inward access point to the many changes that have taken place within me, over the last year. I know through my interactions, I am committed, passionate and in turn, making small changes that actually do effect the world.
Thank you Margaret Mead for reminding me how important this is.