I often get so impatient with the amount of time it takes to change. I often feel the need to have things already ‘just so.’ Our culture strives for and cultivates illusions of perfection; something people can never attain. What this elusive striving leaves me with is a sense that I’m not already doing great things! A feeling that there is something better out there, which inevitably takes me away from the present moment and the beauty that exists right here, right now.
Conversely, the striving from improvement (rather than perfection) allows me to grow. Like a plant transfixed on reaching the sun, growth through and around obstacles happens when I set goals for myself. I have so often watched myself parent my children in ways I don’t want to, ways I know aren’t helpful. Shouting and doling out punishments are not solutions. Another example would be how I hate using plastic, yet still make purchases at the local grocery store that are wrapped in it. I have not put the effort into finding a complete alternative. We will not compromise on buying organic in our home, and as a result, I often end up coming home with vegetables and fruits packaged in plastic. In addition we have a need to find a dairy that doesn’t use plastic containers (cheese and yogurt are staples around here!)
Awakening to new ideas and having the gumption to follow my inner voice is what is helping me to make progress. But how do I maintain integrity? It sure stings to watch myself repeat patterns that I no longer subscribe to, as I feel they belong to a paradigm I’m shifting away from. But this interaction is part of the process. I still belong to the culture that established the paradigm and the people around me still function within it…including myself. Similar to how I’m able to view myself as part of nature, I must also recognize that I am part of the culture at large, and even though I push back against it, many aspects of my life still subscribe to it. This is not inherently a bad thing, because descending toward a less oil dependent future definitely takes time. It’s such a blessing to have a staircase to use! What I must remember to so make sure I respect myself on the journey down.
What I have noticed is that getting down on myself for my inability to make the change will not actually help the change happen. In fact it often becomes a hindrance, because I’m not supporting myself through the change. What I actually need to do for myself in times of inner conflict is to trust. To be gentle with where I am knowing that I am moving in the right direction. I take a deep breath and observe. If I can tune into myself in that small window of feeling, perhaps I will find an answer. How does it make me feel when I treat my child in a disrespectful way or come home with bags of plastic wrapped food? What alternative solutions do I have? Although the second question rarely offers up any stellar solution to a usually large and consistent problem, asking it acknowledges that I’m open to alternatives. If I stop asking the question, an answer will never come. I am waiting for an opening to appear. In my searching, I also often stumble upon small shifts that I can make toward a larger change. Many smaller shifts in consciousness combine to make a large one so any shift in the right direction is a good one.
Here I am reminded of a story I read not too long ago of a man lost on a mountain climbing trip after falling down a crevasse. His climbing partner thought he had died in the fall and descended the mountain to save himself from the bitter cold. The injured man, still alive but unable to walk, was determined to make it to safety. Rather than consider the entire journey, he began to set small goals for himself. Things like, I will make it to that rock in the next three hours. With incremental goal setting, he was able to see his successes and ultimately save himself. I only hope for the same courage to save myself. There will always be another goal to point my attention toward in search of change. What there won’t be is another chance to live the process…that thing we call life.