“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” – Arundati Roy
I don’t think I would identify myself as a relativist, but some time ago I heard someone use the phrase “experiments with truth”- or I may have read it…but either way, it caught my attention. As I have been thinking about the year that has passed and the new year which is already underway, I can’t help but reflect, resolve and wonder. I used to hate the idea of “resolutions” because it seemed like no one ever did what they set out to accomplish and that January was just a crappy self image time where marketers and advertisers could remind us what was wrong with us and convise us that we need this, this and this to “get better.” But like I said before, the end and beginning of a year seem like a natural place to evaluate our lives and goals- I think September is a good time for this too. For some reason the new school year feels like a new year in itself.
So, back to experiments with truth. I really wish I could remember where I heard this idea not only to give the creator credit, but also to make sure that my own interpretation is not completely flawed. The way that I understand these “experiments” goes something like this. A few years ago I read a book on meat, farm practices and environmental sustainability. It was very perplexing and pretty gross. So, I decided that I would stop eating meat- not necessarily as a principle or lifetime commitment, but rather as an open ended experiment to see if this felt right, good or truthful to me. Maybe it’s all in the phrasing, but for some reason this “experiment” allowed me to feel free to change my mind and free to see how I felt about the whole ordeal. And while I don’t identify myself as a relativist, I do think that we, as a culture, need to be more understanding and less judgmental of the choices people make. See, my experiment of not eating meat was really only about me. I don’t need to get all moral about it and look down upon those who disagree. This is definitely something I’ve learned over this holiday- if there is something that we feel passionate about, convicted of, drawn to- and no one else agrees, no one else wants to come- we still must do these things. Finding truth in the world and in life is not about creating trends or getting people “on board”- it’s about becoming who we were meant to be and learning to love and receive grace through all of it.
This year I am going to look at my goals for the year as new experiments- I am going to see how practicing these things changes me- makes me better, if I can find truth in the sentiment. I have no idea if the point is success or not or whether I will have have a new understanding of the world around me- so, we’ll see I guess…
Here are some of the “experiments” for this year:
-learn and practice holding people in high regard- be less critical- give people the benefit of the doubt
-don’t interrupt: learn to listen more
-practice living with less, question all of my material desires- ask “why do I want this?”
-Eat out less- share more meals with friends, cook together
– drive less- WAY less
– don’t commit to people or events if you know that you can’t/ don’t want to go to
– read often
– write often
-re-use more- consume less
– be hopeful in all circumstances- even the worst. Cynicism is for the lazy. I love the picture at the top of this post. It’s from a trip I went on last year to Ecuador. We went about eight hours into the amazon to this very small village called Paquisha (only about 16 families). What I love so much about this picture is the exchange that is happening. The woman holding the baby and her daughter took George and I into the bush near their house to see all of the fruit they had. They laughed as we tried to cut down bananas and Evelyn, the little girl, shimmied up papaya trees to collect fruit for us. It was beautiful thing, receiving their fruit as a gift- it was humbling. We thought that we were there to serve them…little did we know. I know for sure that the people I met in Paquisha were more of a blessing to me than I was to them. I was not their hero- I wasn’t supposed to be. But meeting these people changed my world view and completely circumvented my old beliefs about “rich” and “poor” and especially changed my notion of justice. We are all the same. We need each other. I can see the face of the creator in the eyes of those around me. Maybe that is my biggest hope for this year- that we would be able to see the divine in everyone around us. That we would remember that life is a gift and that there is a better way to live. It is my hope that we see and practice this.