Leading from Our Imaginations
Hello Dear Friends,
These last two weeks I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. This year is overwhelming for all of us in many different ways. Obviously, we’re all exhausted from politics, health issues, finances, job losses, and huge fires that make people feel like they’re living through a post-apocalyptic world. In between all the chaos, we’ve all tried to find something to laugh about and find happiness in, in order to maintain some vague sense of sanity. This week I want to share with you some things I am personally learning through my process and exploration about how to best bring Social Tinkering to the community.
During a conversation I had recently while discussing the right path to follow for building Social Tinkering, I was advised, and finally I have realized too, that I also need to discover the path I want for myself as well. I tend to compartmentalize my life – work, family, friends, and last but most forgotten, myself. Have you ever had a vision of something but struggled to build it into reality? We all have our dream careers, our dream relationships, our dream lives that we’ve imagined. And many of us have dreams for what we want our communities to become, our country to become, the kind of world we want to leave for our children. I’m sure you’ve heard that quote from Theodore Roosevelt, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
For my own path through life, I have certainly taken a fairly non-traditional road, with many people not understanding the decisions I have made, but it has all led to create the life I truly want to live. Now, as my kids both enter school full time, I am transitioning into the next stage of life where I am free to determine the work I want to accomplish again. Creating the concept of Social Tinkering alone has taken me 2 years and I’m certain it is not fully developed still. But I have a dream - a vision, of how we can do things better, and I am determined to see it through. There are days and weeks when I question my sanity and wonder if I should just give up and go get a “real” job. Certainly, having a paycheck for all my hard work would be nice! But I am following a dream and that is not an easy thing to do. I am guessing that you all can relate to this somehow. What was your dream back when you were 18 years old and gazing into the vast expanse of your future? What was your dream when you were 6 years old – what and who did you want to “be” when you grew up? How did you picture your life? Now, in 2020, what do you dream of? What are you striving for? Are you shoving the dream down for fear of admitting it is really what you want because it seems impossibly hard to achieve? Or are you fighting to make it a reality?
Glennon Doyle’s newest book Untamed is on the top of my stack of reading materials this week. She speaks of looking back within ourselves to find that which is truly who we are – our wild side, like a caged animal remembers in their heart and soul that they are wild creatures. Reading her words, I am reminded of my own journey through life, the decisions I have made and why I have made them. I have made several incredibly difficult decisions in my life that have stayed with me deep inside, that I know were the right decisions for me, but they weren’t the popular decisions – you know, the decisions that a lot of people would have made because that’s what you should do. Every time I have made these decisions, it is based upon the vision I have for my future and what I want that to consist of. These decisions have been things like changes in career and family relationships, getting married, having children, changes in where my family lives and even moving across the country multiple times. No matter how disruptive these decisions have been or how hard the changes necessary were to make, as I look back, they have all brought me closer to the place where I imagine myself to be as I move into my future.
Imagination is the key word here and this book Untamed is all about living life based on what you can imagine, rather than accepting what the world has told you to do or what you should be. We can imagine a better world for ourselves. We do not have to accept things the way they are now. Our ancestors never stopped imagining and that is why we are where we are now. We have the freedom, just like our ancestors, to grasp the good of what has been accomplished in this world so far and to acknowledge the things we can do better and to work to improve upon it all. Just like generations before us, it is our turn now to continue to improve our world with the new information we have learned along the way. We are not spoiled and ungrateful for doing so, and we do not have to accept less than, keeping the bar low. We are brave and willing to grow and change just like previous generations before us. As Doyle reminds us in Untamed, we can dream as Martin Luther King Jr. has inspired us to do, and we can use our imaginations to plan for our future as Gloria Steinem has advised. We can do the hard work to make our personal worlds and our planet a better place for us all to live.
Another line of thinking that has struck me so far in this book, is the author’s lesson learned that she cannot find answers to her questions by turning outward to everything and everyone around her. As she began her journey back to her wild self, she sought out answers to her questions via online searches, talking to friends and family and strangers, and reading articles. These outward answers only led her back into herself and made her realize that she had the answer all along, but needed to trust herself. At first when I read this, I was in the midst of feeling completely overwhelmed with how to move Social Tinkering forward. For the last 8 days I have been struggling again with what next step to take, to make this look like what I envision in my mind. I didn’t fully grasp what Doyle was getting at until yesterday, which is actually the same thing a wise teacher has been trying to get me to see all along. All week I have talked with friends, seeking bits of genius I cannot see myself. I have done this for months now. I have spoken with eager, almost desperate ears, to people with decades more work experience than myself. I have searched online, reading everything I could find related to organizations, legal structures, going back to school, and many more articles and information. I have racked my brain stuck in the same spot I get to every time I try to shift forward beyond a certain point in developing this idea, and I started to feel hopeless and think that perhaps this idea is crazy and I should just give up rather than forge ahead over the hurdles. But as I read Doyle’s book, I finally fully grasped my problem. No one has ever developed my idea before me – it’s all mine. This is not something that other people will have all the answers to because they do not fully see the idea I am imagining in my head and they haven’t done this before me. Just like in my personal life, no one has lived this exact path before me because they aren’t me, so no one else knows what the right answers are. I am working to raise the bar again on how we do things as a society just like my personal decisions in the past, challenging myself to find a better way to live. I am taking what we, as a society, have learned, and I am imagining that we can do even better. The answers are within me, just like they have been for every other big decision I have ever faced. I need to trust my faith in myself and my imagination and slowly move forward towards my dream.
As I work through all of this here in my head, I think of all of you out there and know I am not alone. Knowing that I am not the only person striving to reach an imagined state of being, an imagined state of the world, helps to buoy my spirits to keep working even though it is hard. There are many of you that inspire me with your drive and passion, and many great people in history and in current times that inspire me as well. I think of all the news articles I have read this week about people struggling and overcoming, about the current state of our government, about the health issues people are facing, about the fight for social justice. We are all feeling overwhelmed at the current state of our world. I know sometimes that you feel hopeless and want to just give up and move to the middle of nowhere away from the world and its problems, hiding away until it all passes, just trying to live in peace. It’s why we all go within ourselves at times and stop reaching out, and stop trying to communicate with each other. We just want to give up because it’s all too much. This is very human to feel this way and we are in this together. As I write this, the message I want you to hear is this: YOU have a wonderful imagination and vision for how our world can be a better place, whether that vision is for yourself, your family, your community, your country, or the world. Stay with it. Hold on tight to it all. You will make it through. We will all make it together to a better world. After all, it’s been done before and we are living proof. We just need to trust ourselves, keep our faith, and forge onward in whatever way we can one day at a time. Together.
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
~Dalai Lama [Tenzin Gyatso]