If I knew Mohandas Gandhi back in his time I would cherish a coffee conversation, carefully listening to him say, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” If he were here in our time I would ask him, “Mo, remember when you said, “Happiness is when what you think, say and do are in harmony? What about what you think, say, do, comment, review, text, email, message and post? Do they all have to be in harmony? It is so hard to be consistent in today’s world of communication.” And I know his answer would be yes.
It took me many years of internally blaming everyone and everything for my unhappiness. I was indecisive and told people what they wanted to hear instead of what I wanted to say, which is, “I am living in fear and sadness, please help.” I made excuses and lied, to myself and others. I abandoned my authentic self to the point where I lost my mind and health. Then I accepted a label from society which led to a routine of medication, psychiatrist appointments and insurance claims. Worst of all, I surrendered to society’s “fact” that I was genetically disordered, chemically imbalanced and disabled, and that I would never live a normal life again. I believed that for two decades. Finally, and thankfully, in 2016, after a spiritual awakening, I left that system and reemerged into that authentic self.
It was only after that reemergence that I was able to become the change I wish to see in the world. I had been working in a career that I mostly loved for more than thirty years, and I thought that was my vocation. How refreshing, then, to at last find a much deeper meaning by creating the change. For me that means to offer compassionate alternative and supplemental solutions to our mental health care system; to serve my fellow humans by listening and providing a sanctuary and calming respite as a way to help people rediscover their authentic selves. I did it by reconnecting with myself, people, and returning to school to gain more knowledge about trauma and therapies and revisiting my lifelong passions of writing and nature. And with music. And by unplugging. Others will need to do it some other way. And I will help them discover how without pharmaceuticals or labels. Because that is the change I wish to see in the world.
Speaking of nature, it has been an exciting and splendid early summer here in the sanctuary. As the framers hammer away on the last new houses in the development behind me, creatures are being displaced into my yard. Although I very much dislike the wilderness disappearing, I enjoy the influx of nature here. The past week alone has shown me a fox, woodchuck, squirrels, deer, skunk, many birds (including egrets and herons feeding in the creek) and a chipmunk that I should probably name since I have been feeding him daily and if I forget, he comes up so see me. I have let my gardens go this year, no weeding or mulching for a change, and they are overgrown with bee balm, strawberries, thistle, mullein and every imaginable kind of “weed.” My lilies are bursting forth and blooming amidst the tall prickers. And that somehow seems okay.
I never made it around to putting out my hummingbird feeder, but the bee balm is attracting them anyway, and they come buzzing by in the evenings. The goldfinches enjoy the thistle seeds. When I am still on my screened-in porch, the wildlife is not threatened by my company, and we entertain each other. Nights are decorated by the fireflies, and yesterday’s heat brought the first buzzing sounds from the cicadas in the trees. I orchestrate with their music when I laugh out loud at the thought of my neighbors possibly cursing me for letting my property revert from sculptured gardens to natural settings in just one season.
“It’s a beautiful thing to arrive at a place where I am assisting nature and my fellow humans simultaneously,” I think and say and post. Somewhere amongst the stars, I believe Gandhi is nodding and smiling.