I love it when the fire in the fireplace magically lights up again after lying dormant for some time. It gives me renewed hope. Reminds me that sometimes things need to rest, re-gather strength… They sometimes need to lie in the quiet among the ashes, gathering heat, in order to rekindle and come back to life.
Living in a cottage, in the woods, in Westchester County, I don’t consider myself the norm of my generation. I returned to Westchester because I felt drawn to return and make a difference in a place that seemed to set the example for other places in the world. Spending time as a community activist and helping to bring the Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute to life, I’ve started to wonder why am I one of the only ones in Westchester who returned to do something here? Why aren’t there awesome, relatable role models returning to their communities to educate young people and serve the community they grew up in? What is it about our society that makes us so fractured and fragmented?
Many of my peers have moved to urban areas to explore their identity among a community of other young people. In some ways, I guess we all took the best next step we could to experience ‘real life’ and perhaps to stake a claim in the world of ‘who we are on our own,’ without the watchful eyes of parents and childhood friends (they in an urban setting, me in a more suburban setting – similar journeys nonetheless). But, I feel a distinct split, fissure, CRACK, in our community. There are voices clearly missing at many tables.. tables where decisions regarding the community’s future are being made. It seems as though we have delineated different social spaces for people to live in comfortable naiveté. Have we forgotten how to interact with the ‘other’ across differences? How do we continue to develop authentic connections with, and compassion for, everyone?
Learning emotional intelligence seems like a decent place to start. What if we taught our kids emotional intelligence in school and made it just as important as math class? Learning how to have healthy relationships, to care for ourselves and for one another, and to care for the environment… We must start somewhere.
I leave for Brazil on Friday to go on a learning journey of exploring what’s beyond GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and to delve into the ideas of GNH (Gross National Happiness). Some of the indicators of GNH are centered around protection of the environment and the education of children. “An education doesn’t just mean getting good grades, it means preparing them to be good people,” (Dupka, see GNH article).
The next question is, how? What needs to be done to make these principles a reality?
I look forward to the upcoming week where I rejoin the Presencing Institute community and others to take a deep dive into the ways we might apply these indicators and principles to our lives and society as a whole. I also look forward to returning and taking action.
Over the last few days I have been resting. I feel like I’m in the ashes of the fire, quietly rejuvenating… Getting ready to spark and stoke the flames of change, yet again.