Seeds of change

Being the Change

From an informative 2011 article in The New York Times:

Perhaps you’ve noticed a bumper sticker that purports to quote [Gandhi]: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” When you first come across it, this does sound like something Gandhi would have said. But when you think about it a little, it starts to sound more like ... a bumper sticker...

Sure enough, it turns out there is no reliable documentary evidence for the quotation. The closest verifiable remark we have from Gandhi is this: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do.”

Well, another reminder...things are not always as they seem. But just because Gandhi did not say that exact quote, nor did Nelson Mandela, Henry David Thoreau, the Buddha, or any other number of notable thinkers actually say exactly the quotes that appear on mugs, t-shirts, and memes, doesn't mean the sentiment isn't valuable. It just means we have to work a little harder to a) document our sources, and b) apply ourselves to the actions that keep us from sliding into the torpor of bumper-sticker activism.

Note from Captain Obvious: If you want to be the change you wish to see in the world, you are going to have to change. What's more, you may end up having to change in ways you don't think you want to change, or in ways that feel uncomfortable to you. There is no escape from the completeness of your intention to change when you actually sincerely ask for change.

So, today, really try to identify one thing you will do to be the change you wish to see in the world...something that actually involves YOU CHANGING. What will it be? Putting a note in your phone to bring re-usable grocery bags? Literally sitting down and being quiet instead of sharing your opinion when a person who has less privilege than you starts talking? Setting a timer to ensure you take showers of fewer than 5 minutes in duration? What will it be? Because to be the change, well, you have to be the change. It starts at home in your own body, actions, and space, and then rather than ending there, it proceeds forth from there.

I'm planning to make a big change in my life in 2017. Through two new projects, I plan to shift more fully into the role of advisor and support for the many people who are doing the beneficial work of creating and sustaining sacred circles and spaces. Watch this space next week when I announce:

  • my new Patreon page where you will be invited to help me develop and test Priestess, my forthcoming book about methods for living a sustainable life of sacred service
  • a monthly video conference class to help assist people who are building Pagan and polytheist temples. This class, called "Raise the Temple" will be offered by donation with 100% of proceeds benefitting CAYA Pagan Congregation, a nonprofit 501(c)3 Pagan, polytheist church.

Seed the world with magic

Part of the practice of taking joy in the joy of others is to actively create opportunities for others to experience their joy. But how can you find the wherewithal to do that amidst difficult times of your own? You shouldn't fake it. You shouldn't give up, either.  Instead, you can launch a personal campaign to seed the world with magic, and ripple it outward from there. Your magic does not need to involve wands or velvet capes, though if it delights you to bring these along, please do. Your magic involves actions taken to make the world a better place for others, in ways small and large.

Begin by making a short list of things you can do, quickly, quietly, and with minimal effort, to bring joy into someone's day. You can pay for the coffee of the person behind you in line. You can pick or purchase an inexpensive bunch of flowers or fragrant herbs and surreptitiously leave them in public places, tied with a piece of ribbon. You can bake or buy a cake for your co-workers and leave it with an anonymous note in the break room. You can compliment strangers on their good taste, cute smiles, or witty remarks. You can participate in a Little Free Library. Each of these small acts is a seed.

From there, reach higher. You can bag food at a local food bank. You can help with a fundraiser for a good cause. You can organize a beach clean-up day. You can light candles for those who are suffering. You can sing love-grams into the voicemails of your friends. You can jump on the bandwagon of someone's GoFundMe and spread it like wildfire. You can organize a group of friends to serve soup to the homeless. You can participate in ceremonies and rituals for peace, or lead them. You can remember tiny details about people that others don't usually remember, and watch them smile shyly when they realize you have. You can make the effort. Each of these acts is a seed.

From there, reach higher. You can start a business that creates joy for others through art, beauty, nourishment, and creativity. You can fill out the paperwork to create a 501(c) charity organization and provide services that are needed. You can help to build a temple or two, advise ethical organizations as they strategize for their futures, step in when you see abuse happening and refuse to back down, create a commune where artists can safely live and hone their craft. Teach yourself to build websites. Host epic parties that raise money for good causes. Each of these acts is a seed.

I used to think about how I could create happiness in the world, and I considered all of the items on this list. They intimidated me. My ego stepped in and tried to tell me my ideas were both frivolous and impossible.

Now, I have done everyone one of these things and I refuse to be intimidated by any dream I have of creating joy, no matter how frivolous or impossible it may seem. Instead, I look for new frivolous and impossible ways to create more joy. Not all of the seeds I plant take root, but I would rather scatter thousands and reap hundreds than stay frozen in fear of planting a single one.

Start where you are. Your magic is needed. Now is the holy moment.