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January 10, 2022

How to be of Service to a Changed Future—& a Poem with a Message that we all Need to Read.

“What is my responsibility? What must be suffered? What can be changed? What can I know? How can I meet this in a way which both lets me open my eyes the next day and also, perhaps, if I’m lucky, can be of service to a changed future?” ~ Jane Hirshfield


My responsibility is to love, to give compassion, to be kind.

My responsibility is to care, to be present, to give myself and others the gift of my true presence. My responsibility is to support my family and friends, even as I recall that I can only change myself.

It’s not my responsibility to multitask, rush, or stress out.

What must be suffered? Life. Life is suffering and life is bliss and everything in between, except boring. Boredom is death. Must death be suffered? Could death be approached in a different manner? Isn’t it simply the next chapter in the never-ending book of Life?

I can change my mind. I can change my body. I can change my heart. I can change my little self. I can change my limits. I can change my beliefs. I can change my values, priorities, pet peeves, attachments, wishes, and desires.

I cannot change my ever-present awareness. I cannot change my true nature, which is love.

We see more and more clearly with each passing catastrophe that climate change is the new normal, the human-made reality. We can’t wait for nations to stumble toward lofty goals for 2050. We can (and must) change and heal our relationship to Mother Earth.

We can change our lifestyle. We can change our level of consumption. We can change our use of plastic. We can change our connection to earth, sea, sky, the seven directions (east, south, west, north, above, below, within). We can connect our heart to the heart of Mother Earth and the heart of Father Sky.

I can know my name, I can know my age, I can know my race and ethnicity. I can know my energy level. I can know your name, age, race, ethnicity, energy. I can know your religion. I can know my religion. I can know we are the same. I can know oneness. I can know separation is an illusion. I can know truth. I can know the beauty that surrounds us.

I beg to urge you everyone:
Life and Death are a Great Matter
Awaken, awaken, awaken
Time passes quickly
Do not waste this precious life.

~Zen Buddhist proverb

I can know my partner and the dear ones around me better and better, by asking and truly listening.

This little prose poem came out of a writing prompt I did a few weeks ago, while leading a small group retreat. It comes from a chapter of The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch, in which she (eloquently and uniquely, as always) writes about when “I first met my mother.”

I first met my husband ten years ago.
I first met my husband on our impromptu five-day love fest immediately upon meeting each other.
I first met my husband when I saw his miniature Ganesh statue on his bedside table.
I first met my husband when he made me a perfect Spanish tortilla—and did the dishes afterward.
I first met my husband when I met his family in Colombia.
I first met my husband when his mother showed me a photo of him in fatigues at 16 when he was drafted into the Colombian army.
I first met my husband when he emerged from the jungle where he’d retreated after freaking out about my unexpected pregnancy three months into our noncommittal relationship. It was my 32nd birthday and he came to my dinner party and we’ve been together since.
I first met my husband when I saw his eyes when our daughter was born.
I first met my husband when he sobbed when our dog Lola died after a brief mysterious illness.
I first met my husband when he came to my hometown and my grandparents’ hometowns.
I first met my husband when he danced with my 91-year-old grandmother in her kitchen; that was the last time she would ever dance.
I first met my husband when we first kissed.
I first met my husband many lifetimes ago.
I first met my husband this morning at sunrise.

How can I be of service to a changed future?

By cultivating more consciousness, compassion, clarity. By recommitting to my practice in each moment of each day. By breathing in and out. By learning and sharing what needs to and wants to be shared, through my practices of writing and teaching.

By being fully here and now. By listening. By practicing loving-kindness, gratitude, simplicity, joy, and peace.

How can you be of service to a changed future?


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