The Great Power of Change

Have you ever felt like you have just landed in a Twilight Zone episode? Or perhaps have just disembarked in a land you hardly recognize, although things feel slightly familiar? That Déjà vu feeling that bleeds thorough your reality to the NOW? It was only a distance of 100+ miles, but on the other side of Alligator Alley I felt I had just landed in the middle of a Hollywood movie set on a recent trip to Naples, Florida.

A friend had arranged a meeting with an engaging, winsome woman who I had met through her podcast radio show several years before, and I jumped at the opportunity to connect once again. She was also a spiritual seeker and I wanted to share my newly published book with her; she excited to meet us as well.

The three of us enjoyed the peaceful and delicious lunch at a charming downtown eatery in Historic Naples. Outside on the patio the conversation was deep, meaningful and relevant to our lives as we shared stories about the twists and turns life offers up. After several hours, we parted and taking advantage of our Saturday adventure decided to walk around enjoying the quaintness and cheerful surroundings. After all it was a “swell” day to walk the old part of town—window shopping and people watching before grabbing dinner and heading home.

Strolling down the sidewalk, snapping a few pictures and watching visitors like ourselves, I felt out of place. It was bigger than that however. I turned to my friend Lynn and commented, that I felt I was living in the middle of the Illusion—that all of this had been constructed for our learning and earth school—in fact each of us playing our parts—all with academy award performances, in fact, as specialists that we are. And beginning to answer the big cosmic question, who are we? Humans here in physical form to affect the WHOLE, extending far out into the Universes and Galaxies beyond our wildest imagination in the name of love. What boundaries do we hold? Or it is only our own limits and perceptions that restrict us?

My concepts of reality had been shifting for some time, but today it was kinesthetic and palatable Was there a rift in dimensions occurring and was that the sense I felt? After all, this affluent, conservative Christian appearing group was so outside the world I recognized by its diversity, color and bi-lingual culture of Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Is this where our realities formed within the bubble we lived? Was this the place where inclusion and exclusion collided? Or where hate and love became judgment and bargaining chips of delusion and fears?

The 1998 movie Pleasantville serves as a great example. Suddenly, Toby McGuire and Reese Witherspoon are cast into a Black and White television series in the fictitious town of Pleasantville. The characters in Pleasantville cannot see color—they don’t know books, or apples or sex or rain. Life is a façade in this place far from reality, as we can imagine. Their world is limited to what they know, which is safe. “What lies outside Pleasantville?”, they ask. The question is a profound one. Is it one that we must ask ourselves as well? And, how many of us still live in the 1950’s world of colorless black and white? Where is our Universe, and does it need to be messed with? What begins to happen when we truly begin to connect with others—all others? Is it only then, that we too can step out of our bubble of illusion and live in the multidimensional world of color which can be a metaphor for Love, Peace, Compassion and our hearts. For as Ervin Laszlo states so eloquently “I am part of the world. The world is not outside of me, and I am not outside of the world. The world is in me, and I am in the world.” Gee whiz, the great power of change.

Bookmark

Bookmarks for me, mark more than just a placeholder for a page in a book—I guess they are more like a tiny time capsule, which seem to mark an event, adventure or period in my life.  Just recently, I had a friend make a remark about my bookmarks, “I am always fascinated what I will find in your books,” he remarked.  Actually, I had never given it much thought until his comment.  Yes, I had used something handy in the moment and then later found old airline ticket jackets, receipts from restaurants, post-it-notes with cryptic messages, raffle tickets, old napkins with handwritten notes and envelopes or simply little scraps and bits of paper that were repurposed into commission to hold a place of importance in the book I was reading at the time. But, it seemed to be “My normal” and usually I took no notice. How odd an observation, I noted to myself, with a sheepish shrug and smile.

Yesterday, however, I pulled down a newer version of The Joy of Cooking, that has found a home atop my refrigerator. (I say newer because the first copy I received was decades ago—upon graduation from high school—from friends of my Mother, as a gift.)  This newer reprint was purchased as my “Florida” version in 2001.  I liked it because of its tables of equivalents and conversions and I used it as an encyclopedia of sorts in the world of baking chemistry, recipes, and basic homemade standbys such as buttermilk biscuits which I could find at a glance; the old 1948 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia collection served the same function growing up regarding inventions and world facts.

But, yesterday, after a lengthy disappearance, I found in one of its pages, a reappearance of a Sainsbury’s label for cranberries. Sainsbury’s was a grocery store I frequented when I lived in England for about six months.  The Cranberries weight measured in grams and the “display” date and the “Best” before date labeled 27 NOV and 28 NOV respectively.

During my stay, the Thanksgiving holiday appeared on my calendar and I insisted on a small Thanksgiving dinner.   Before my trip, I never realized the imbedded importance of what this holiday meant for me.  In my core, it screamed American and for all our criticisms around the world, I realized in 2006 that in spite of living in another English-speaking country which very much represented our history and roots—there were some extremely notable and discernible differences in the way in which our entrenched thoughts and beliefs impacted our present day workings.

Yes, I navigated the right-hand drive—with extreme concentration; it was so easy to slip back into the autopilot of the more familiar American—left-hand drive.  Yes, there were a few words that were particularly “English” and that just made it more fun.  And, yes, there was the occasional derogatory comment about ‘the Americans’, but I was unfazed.

The single most important difference I noticed, was the mentality—that good old American—nothing can stop me now attitude, that I believe separates us and the freedom others seek when they arrive on our shores.  This is the same fortitude that has spurred protests, freedom of expression and the drive for something better—always better.  We may have our share of rotten apples—for no society is ever perfect, but we will sort and sift and find a better way to give everyone a chance to live in harmony with ourselves and our neighbors.

Surprised, that, it is this “time capsule,” a bookmark, the Sainsbury’s Cranberry label and buttermilk biscuits, that reminds me today, that I am proud to be an American.  I know we will get through all this chaos.  It will be sorted out and we will be stronger and more united for it in the end.  Because, that’s who we are!

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