I’m getting a little impatient about how much time it’s taking for humans to evolve. Really. It’s not as though we don’t know that everything is connected, that war and oppression are archaic and flawed, or that we can’t trash the planet without deep consequences to ourselves. Many, many, many of us understand these things. It’s not rocket science. This. Is. Not. News.
There are days when I want to run out of my office screaming: “WAKE FREAKING UP!!!” Yep, I’m getting impatient. I’m utterly and completely bored of racism, hatefulness, littering and all the rest of the jankiness in the world — there are days when I am not happy AT ALL. And I know I’m not alone.
And then there are days when I remember that evolution is not linear. Change doesn’t happen all at once, and we’ve come a long way even in my lifetime. I live and work in ways that my mother could never have imagined. The air is cleaner now in California than when I was a child. I can marry whomever I choose in most states and some countries. These are big deals.
One of the challenges of being leaders in social transformation is balancing our desire to see immediate results from our work, and having the patience to take a longer view. In some ways, change seems like it should be easy — we don’t need anything to start acting with kindness and respect right this moment, or repair broken relationships, or feed those who are hungry. Literally — we can all volunteer to clean up a riverbank or pay just a little more so that workers at restaurants and fast-food joints can actually feed their own families. It’s not like we are lacking in expertise or even commitment. What’s taking so damn long?
Well, when I consider how long I sometimes take to learn a new lesson, I can have greater compassion for humans writ large. I’m sure that there have been many times when those who love me have wondered how long it was going to take me to learn a lesson that was clear to them and obtuse to me. I’m grateful that my family and community had the patience to not give up on me when I was struggling to shift long-standing patterns that were impeding my capacity to grow. I could only evolve at the pace that was right for me at the time.
When I remember this, I can relax, and let things take the time they need. The river only goes as fast as it does, despite my desperate paddling or remonstrating at the shore. No one of us is in charge of the pace of change – we are only in charge of our piece of it.
So it’s not about how far we get in a single day – what’s important is that we keep moving in the direction of growth and connection. My impatience really doesn’t help much. In fact it doesn’t help at all. So I’m going to work on being peaceful with what is. Right this moment. I’m going to breathe more and fuss less. I will keep working, even when the immediate results of my efforts are not clear to me. And, as we teach at Rockwood, I will remember to come from a place of partnership and compassion.
We are in momentous times, and I’m glad to be on another journey around the sun with you. As we move toward spring, may you be well, may you be happy, and may you be at peace.
From my heart to yours,