I came into my teenage years in the 80’s. It was a time of massive shoulder pads and electronic synthesizers. Greed was deemed good, computers were entering our homes, and the idea of video phones didn’t seem so far-fetched.
It was a time of huge ideas. We had just witnessed the biggest concert ever – the LiveAid broadcast reached 2 billion people – and the hair was just as large (feathered, permed, backcombed, and there was even a “wet look”).
“Big” was in, and I took to that belief like a duck to water. Big nestled into my consciousness, and I began to plan what my Big, accomplished life would look like. I saw myself on the global stage, a chance to become a leader, maybe the finder of a cure or balm for the wounds of the many… I wanted to make a difference to humanity in a – you guessed it – big way. But I kept it to myself.
I pursued Big for a long while, but it continued to elude me. Then, after many years, I began to realize what I had been chasing was a phantom. Big was just an idea, a fad. It was not based in what I really needed or wanted to fulfill me.
When it came to my career, family, and home, I figured it out by following my heart. But when it came to making a difference, I still felt I had to reach many, many, many people. And not only people, but animals too – the abused and the endangered kind. Then there was the environment, big nasty governments, and cruel corporations… the list went on.
So much to do, and no clue how to make that colossal difference. As years passed, I felt I was falling behind in my commitment to humanity and the Earth.
In the meantime, I taught classes, worked one-on-one with clients, and traveled all over the US and Europe presenting seminars on peace, education and consciousness. During those years I also worked my way through a detention center for incarcerated youth in Santa Fe NM, a methadone clinic in San Francisco, CA, and the assistive technology department of a Las Vegas school district.
All the while, I wondered: when was I going to actually do it? I.e. make as big a difference as LiveAid, or go dig wells in Africa?
It didn’t happen. No.
Luckily, I came across an article by Ken Wilber in which he spoke about the narcissism of making a difference. He raised the idea that most of us feel our efforts only “count” if we do it big, globally, and impact the lives of millions. Meanwhile, we completely overlook the small differences we can make in our families, schools and communities every day. Sobering and delicious – that’s Ken for you.
The spell broke. I no longer felt like Atlas carrying the world on my shoulders. I am happy to say that now this focus has shifted not only in my deeds, but my thoughts and feelings. A sunny smile, mindful attention for myself and others, encouraging words – all these are the everyday realities through which I consciously make a difference.
There are, of course, bigger projects. But those walk happily alongside the daily practicalities of my life.
I choose with each breath and heartbeat to embody the consciousness that truly makes a difference, no matter how small-scale it might be; e.g. love, kindness, clarity, and depth. It is so much simpler this way.
Tell me about the “bigs” that have ruled your life. What small but mighty transformations do you plan to make in 2013?
|Photo credit 1 – fanpop.comPhoto credit 2- Wall Street
Photo credit 3- Bladerunner