Before you go a-wandering

This morning I woke up in the place I call home feeling well and strong, blessed and grateful, following a small operation and several nights stay in hospital. I gently disentangled myself from my cat who was snuggled up against me under the duvet, went out onto the verandah of my little wooden house and absorbed the misty mountain view. It was a very chilly morning. I fed my cat, lit a candle in my meditation room and made myself a cup of fresh coffee, as is my usual habit each morning. By this time it was just past 7.00am.

Mornings and evenings are cold at this time of year in the mountains of northern Thailand. Socks and thermal vest under pink pyjamas and a woolly jumper kept me warm as I sat on the verandah sipping my mug of fresh Lazy Man Coffee. And as I sat there breathing in the myriad tones of greens that appeared before me with the changing light and listened to the waking sounds of the farm, my mind wandered to all those who do not, who cannot and who will never see what I see. I found my heart expanding, especially to Aleppo. To her people, to the bloodshed, the destruction, the pain, the sorrow, the loss, the grief, the bewilderment, the devastation, the rubble, the cries, the grey – the mist of a different kind. My heart saw people across the globe – too many people – in a similar predicament. And my heart bled. Yet I did not feel sad. Not in that broken kind of way. The way you feel when you just can’t deal with the thought of any more suffering around you because it leaves you so numb and exhausted, feeling hopeless and impotent because you are not doing anything to help! Not because you don’t care but because you feel so helpless!  I don’t feel that any more. I used to, but not now. I’m not sure exactly why not. Yet I know instinctively it’s not a negative change. Is it foolish to believe that if I can feel something or even imagine something good hard enough, I can experience it on behalf of someone else? Can I see and experience joy and love and beauty for others? I believe I can.

I’ve seen so many posts on social media recently, read articles and watched soundbites about what a terrible year 2016 has been. The worst year! The pits! Annus horribilus! How glad people will be when it is over!

It has indeed been a horrible and shocking year on a global scale in so many ways. Undeniably individuals have suffered and continue to suffer horrors that we are all too slow to do something about! We have all had our personal challenges too and some still have their crosses to bear. But how can we decide upon resolutions to make things better, to turn towards the light instead of slipping into the abyss, if we do not, either individually, or globally, experience failure, loss and disappointment? We do not have to suffer (unless we choose to) but neither do we have to leave the world to suffer too, wallowing in helplessness and despair and the belief that we cannot make a difference. Each morning as I wake and feel my body, the blood pumping through my veins and the breath in my lungs, I know I have another day to experience and learn; I have another opportunity to change myself, and for that I am happy and grateful. I am grateful for every day. Has this year been any better or worse than any other? Or has it simply – been?

The words of Jana Stanfield often come to mind at times like this, “I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do.” I believe it is increasingly important that each and every one of us starts small. We don’t have to all climb mountains. It’s ok. There are lots of little hills to conquer first! Be the stone that creates ripples when you throw it in a pond. Be that spark of energy that affects another, that fuels the fire that spreads far and wide. Be the catalyst that ignites a chain reaction that can and will make a global difference. Frustration and despair, annoyance, grief and anger all have their place. It’s ok and positively healthy to express these emotions. They are not good they are not bad. Just don’t let them define you.

Be the change you want to see in others or the world around you. I know it sounds cliched but it is fundamentally the truth. You can affect change. Each and every one of us can affect change. Whether it’s that we want to improve a relationship with a family member, persuade our boss to another point of view, improve our own life in some way or convince our local community that every diverse and different human being has something positive to bring to the table. Just like the Hawaiian shamanistic practice of Ho’oponopono, if you want to heal the world – first heal yourself!

On that note, I’m currently rereading The Alchemist (Paulo Cohello). It feels like the right time to reread it. It’s a good reminder that the treasure we seek is within us. There it lies all the while we go a-wandering! Ironically however we must first embark on a journey to understand that. For it is the journey and the experience of it that teaches us all what we need to know.