Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Becoming more

Back before the economy fell apart, the Washington State Governor had a wonderful plan for cleaning up our waterways by installing more effective sewage treatment stations at our state parks. There's a state park at the end of our street, and so the plan was to build a treatment system there and to allow both our street and the street on the hill above us to use that sewer system.

The plan has involved numerous city council meetings, and on one of our many visits to city hall we encountered this intriguing fellow standing in the window. He was there to protest a plan to eliminate liveaboards from Eagle Harbor -- i.e., to no longer allow people to live on boats anchored out in this rather public harbor (which is surrounded by elegant homes).

In short, he was there to protest one kind of change, and we were there to request another kind of change -- and, interestingly enough, both changes were being justified by a claim to be cleaning up the waters of Puget Sound (though some studies have shown that most of the pollution in Eagle Harbor comes from the surrounding homes, not the liveaboards). And the question for our City Council, in such cases, becomes, "Where does the truth lie, and what is best for our community?"

But isn't that always the question? Isn't every decision about change? And aren't we always attempting to discern where the truth lies, and what is best for all concerned? And isn't it also true that most of the conflicting information we get to sift through has to do with egoic coloration: I want this outcome because it is best for me, and so I will color the truth in order to achieve that end?

A friend sent me Katrina Kenison's sweet video on The Gift of an Ordinary Day, and I found myself thinking about all those decisions we make as parents -- when to be fierce with our kids and when to be gentle; when to have high expectations and when to lower them; what to give freely, and what to make them earn -- and how those decisions, too, all have to do with change, truth, and what is best for all concerned, and those decisions, too, are colored by ego -- both ours, and those of our kids.

How many times, I think, looking back over those child-raising years, did I get angry with my daughters, not because what they were doing was really bad, but because it reflected badly on me? And how many times did I coddle them and solve their problems rather than pushing them to find their own solutions, just because it was easier for me not to deal with their whining? And how different are those decisions from the decisions my city council has to make, really?

If there is, as my husband believes, such a thing as absolute truth, how do we find it? And how do we come to forgive ourselves for all the times we made -- or influenced -- decisions that weren't really truth-based, but more ego-based? My sense is that we are, each of us, and our communities and our societies, all works-in-progress. As David Richo says in my readings this morning, "Identity is a process, not an established structure. Our identity, in other words, is an evolving phenomenon. It is impermanent, not only because it is contingent, but also because it is continually changing to become what it will never fully be. We will always be more -- and never final."

And then he goes on to say, "The more we affirm that others matter as much as we do, the more we find our personal path and our purpose in life. This interconnectedness is how universal evolutionary -- that is, ever-ripening -- yearnings fulfill themselves in individual lives." So perhaps this constant process of responding to change, making decisions, seeking truth, overcoming ego and looking for what is best for all is all part of what moves us forward on the path to becoming... well, maybe not what we were born to be. Maybe we don't quite ever get there. But at least we can become... more.

So it's all good.

1 comment:

Maureen said...

Thank you for linking to the Kenison video. I have just an only, he's now 21, over 6 feet tall, and about to complete his studies at NYU. Kenison's words hit home. He is still becoming. I like to think I am, too.