Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Politics and Driving To Work: Different Routes with a Common Goal
“The fish only knows that it lives in the water, after it is already on the river bank. Without our awareness of another world out there, it would never occur to us to change.”
Alright folks. It’s that time of year—time to take stock in where we’ve been, where we are and where we are going.
I am, as most of you know, a devout believer in the notion that we create our future. My mom used to always say, “You’d better be careful what you wish for…because you might just get it.”
Of course, it is a smart and fiscally sound practice, for any organization to take an inventory every one to two years…to see where it’s been, where it is and where it’s going. In the business world this is called a strategic planning retreat. Girls on the Run had its strategic planning retreat with board and staff a few weeks ago. The strategic plan will serve as the map (with coordinates) for our next 1 to 3years.
Lately I feel as if I’ve been on my own personal kind of strategic planning retreat. The world has introduced a number of people that, on first impression, seem to have very oppositional views to those I have held for the last twenty or so years. Their entry into my life carries a mysterious quality with each “hello.” Surely, I must have “invited” these opposing viewpoints into my life for a reason.
But thanks to their persistence and my willingness to enter with an open-mind, I’m discovering that in many instances we are all wishing for the same thing. The desired outcome of our world-view-strategic-plan is the same…it’s the “how to get there’s” that may be different; and even after further discussion and semantically picking apart the words we use to describe the “how to get there’s”--even those often have a similar route. The dots all connect. It’s just the WORDS WE USE that are different.
Digging deeply into how I came to believe what I do in my life, specifically in the political and spiritual realm, has revealed to me that I have, for much of my life, believed in what I’ve been taught by the people around me. I guess that’s pretty obvious. These recent introductions to people outside my typical day-to-day life have revealed to me how much I don’t know…how much I’ve been a victim (for lack of a better word) of my own up-bringing. I’m not in any way suggesting that my up-bringing was lacking. I’ve become the person I am because of it and the life experiences I’ve had since then…but the recent knock-knock-hello-in-there—from people who are far more educated and studied on the topics of spirituality and politics have humbled me, intrigued me and inspired me to learn more, know more and as Brooke, my Girls on the Run (11 year old) friend said to me last week, “Be the boss of my own brain.”
In an effort to become the “Boss of my own Brain” I decided to launch a to-do list…a cerebral kind of checklist that I would engage in the approaching year. Here’s what it looks like:
1. Meditate every morning or at least as many mornings as is possible. I’m going to take at least 20 or more minutes to empty my brain of everything. This is harder than it seems, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway!
2. Research and read five books that give an unbiased overarching portrayal of our nation’s political history and landscape. I want to understand the framework on which the various political parties position their party platforms.
3. Ask a lot of questions of the people in my life. “Explain your viewpoint to me.” “I don’t understand how you came to that conclusion. Please do tell.” Using another one of my Mom’s favorite quotes, I will “Seek first to understand and then be understood.”
4. Take a different route to work every day for the next month. This action will be a physical reminder to me that there are many different ways to any desired goal. I want to experience that on some level, even if it’s just in this small way, everyday.
5. Volunteer (I have limited time I realize) with a population that is unknown to me. I will have absolutely NO preconceived notion for this group of people. I want to base my experience with them solely on the experience. I want to draw conclusions based on what I learn from them…not from established systems, studies and research…but on what I will know…being there. (I’m not sure this is possible, but it’s worth a try.) There have been some opportunities for me to do some alcohol recovery work with women in prison. I think that would be a good place to start.
6. Journal about it all.
In closing, I’m sincerely asking you to help me. Help me figure out other physical, mental and emotional tasks I can add to my to-do list that will push out those notions that I’ve adopted “just because” or “because that’s what I’ve always known, heard, believed” and help me “be the boss of my own brain.”
What do you say? What actions do you take to keep an open-mind? What questions do you ask to fire up untouched and unused neurons in your brain? Come on. Tell me something I don’t know! Awareness awaits!!!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org