Sunday, February 10, 2013

Why I Love Alice Walker, and Changing the World, One Stone at a Time

In some ways living here at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is ideal. Kurt and I have built a home, and built a life. We are surrounded by nature, have crafted ways of earning money that suit our natures, and no longer commute to a "job." We have time to pursue our passions, our creativity, our intellectual cravings.

But sometimes life here is simply difficult. I don't always agree with the direction the group seems to be taking, or am not enamored of decisions that are made. I feel adrift, disconnected, alone, frustrated.

And so I turn to writers I love, and inevitably find what I need. Today's excerpt is from Alice Walker, in Anything We Love Can Be Saved. She helps me to remember that everyone is doing his/her best, that activism is hard, and that I need to be kind not only to others but to myself. Have a good week. Love, Alline

It has become a common feeling, I believe, as we have watched our heroes falling over the years, that our own small stone of activism, which might not seem to measure up to the rugged boulders of heroism we have so admired, is a paltry offering toward the building of an edifice of hope. Many who believe this choose to withhold their offerings out of shame.

This is the tragedy of our world.

For we can do nothing substantial toward changing our course on the planet, a destructive one, without rousing ourselves, individual by individual, and bringing our small, imperfect stones to the pile...

Stones from Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California, where there used to be a dump. Hundreds of thousands of pieces of ceramics and bottles have been pounded by the waves for decades, resulting in smooth, gleaming gemstones.

...I have learned other things: One is the futility of expecting anyone, including oneself, to be perfect. People who go about seeking to change the world, to diminish suffering, to demonstrate any kind of enlightenment, are often as flawed as anybody else. Sometimes more so. But it is the awareness of having faults, I think, and the knowledge that this links us to everyone on earth, that opens us to courage and compassion. It occurs to me often that many of those I deeply love are flawed. They might actually have said or done some of the mean things I’ve felt, heard, read about or feared. But it is their struggle with the flaw, surprisingly endearing, and the going on anyhow, that is part of what I cherish in them.

Sometimes our stones are, to us, misshapen, odd. Their color seems off. Presenting them, we perceive our own imperfect nakedness. But also, paradoxically, the wholeness, the rightness, of it. In the collective vulnerability of presence, we learn not to be afraid.

In this book I am writing about the bright moments one can experience at the pile. Of how even the smallest stone glistens with tears, yes, but also from the light of being seen, and loved for simply being there.

~Alice Walker
Anything We Love Can Be Saved