“From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than ‘objectivity’; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble.” – Howard Zinn
What is your recipe for making trouble? How do you upset the status quo? What do you infuse your work with? What inspires you to take the ordinary risk of bringing your whole self to work, to love, to life? What tries to hold you back from this? Don’t you want more?
Many people in my spiritual direction practice lately feel like things are too much and they cannot keep up. Thing is, we don’t have to keep up, and we certainly don’t have to speed up. What is more helpful is to show up, re-center, harness our energy, and try. We often have to slow down enough to meet our own power. Some feel overwhelmed by the tasks they are taking up. Others feel like life right now is too big for who they are and what they offer. I keep telling them that they are just right. They are the ones called upon because we each are being called upon. We each have some distinct way in which we express life through our bodies, our minds, our voices, and our emotions. Whether we dig a ditch, raise a family, protest mountain top removal, teach in university, bake bread, or do all of these, our lives matter. Our desires – and our actions – help to power the world.
These are not the desires that are simple fantasies that keep us trapped in dissatisfaction by providing a soporific escape. These are desires that wake us up, and boldly say, “Here I am life! What have you got for me? What can I offer in return?” These are desires that tell us: “You can be more, and to be more, you must honor who you are right now.”
Who are you? What do you want? What do you need? What do you offer the world?
The small things form the large. The large give shelter and inspiration to the delicate. We all reflect each other.
Whenever you feel too weak or under qualified, I want you to remember Mr. Zinn. He was an ordinary person, just like you and me. Born in Brooklyn’s slums and raised during the Great Depression, he must have felt a tugging inside. Did he set out to be great? I doubt it. I bet he just followed desire and his life rose to meet the challenge, enabling his will to spark and catch fire, touching millions. Zinn was simply an ordinary man, writing about ordinary people. He showed us the beauty and power in the every day, in things that most of us overlook. He taught us that history is made up of our lives. He gave us a lens through which to view our own greatness.
What are you willing to see today?