Happy new lunar month, fam!
Do you have the time to celebrate the start of a new month in the year? of a new week in the month? A day in the week? An hour in the day? A minute in the hour? A second in the minute?
Do you have the time to be grateful for where you are now?
Or are you just trying to get past this moment and “on to the good part”?
It has recently come to the attention of this one piece of the universal soul, one of many presently contributing to this complex experience we call "life", that the morning before dawn is its most favored time of day. (In sharing personal experiences, from here onward I’ll be using “I”, “me”, and “my”- excuse the egocentrism.)
The serenity of being present at that time, being fully conscious of the subtle nuances that rise with each passing moment, the looming call to prayer on the wind as it fills the air, reminding the city and its people of the coming of a new day (though surely not all are quietly nestled in their beds at that hour), is for me a feeling that I’ve learned to cherish before jumping into my planned activities for the day. (And at the time of posting, I'm feeling much less poetic but have decided not to take this part out.)
Have you, too, noticed that there are certain parts of the day during which you just feel different?
Is it because of the time? Because of the environment in which you find yourself?
And what do you choose to do at that time?
After I’ve had my fill of peace in that morning moment- as one certainly can’t forever sit and cherish a fleeting present, nor look longingly with nostalgia into the presents that passed- the most recent version of my daily schedule has me sitting down to write, when all the world’s truths seem just a little bit clearer... and when I can be a bit gentler on both the world and on myself.
It’s what makes it a good time for planning.
Since starting OSE just five short months ago, however, I’ve come to realize that it isn’t enough to simply plan and “set goals”, but also understand why we’re driven to achieve them, and better yet, why we make goals in the first place if we can’t seem to find the motivation to make them happen.
And if you follow OSE on any social media platform or have been a part of the free conversation sessions we have open to public on Wednesdays, you already know that the mission at Open Shores English is (and I quote) “to guide students in their exploration of the English language through an eco-conscious, Earth-friendly lens,” and that “our goal in nurturing a learning environment centrally-focused on sustainability is to support others in not only sharing their own stories but also their hope for the future.“
But what is eco-consciousness if not simply awareness of our impact on the Earth? Is environmental awareness enough for us to fix our behavior on the necessary scale to change the course of the path we’re going down as humanity?
And what is Earth-friendly if not concern for the planet’s well-being, and in that, the well-being of the people who inhabit it?
At the forefront of my desire to invite more people to the conversation on eco-consciousness and sustainable living is the inconvenient truth that the people I’d like most for OSE to serve are the people who don’t have the leisure of being part of the conversation on eco-consciousness and sustainable living- not only because they may not have the proficiency in rhetoric to chime in on these discussions with confidence, but because they’re the people who are just trying to make ends meet…
And whose lifestyles are actually having the smallest impact on the degradation of our natural resources, but who might very well be inclined to choose environmental destruction if it meant having greater financial resources to achieve higher living standards.
When I first started writing this piece on Wednesday (hence, the intro “happy new lunar month”), just before the weekly group conversation session, I thought that the point of this post was to further explore the concept of “emotional intelligence”, since it was the planned topic for the group session; I thought that I’d reiterate the importance of emotional intelligence in achieving effective communication for building healthier relationships with people- people at work, people in our communities, or to simply better support our families at home- but it was just one small piece of that topic which stuck with me, a small piece that is relevant to each and every one of us despite our financial standing or degree of participation in the further destruction of the planet, and especially to the face of an educational organization and an entrepreneur, and that small piece- within awareness of our emotions- is awareness of the self.
We’re often chastised for egocentrism and placing too much emphasis on ourselves in our day-to-day conversation, and we’d probably all generally agree with the statement that no one wants to hear you talk about yourself (yet here I am, writing about myself and my personal experience- thanks for sticking with me until this point, hopefully it all starts making sense to you if it hasn’t so far).
However, awareness of the self- and how you come across to others- can be the difference between reaching the goals that you’ve laid out for yourself and repeatedly banging your head against the wall while asking,
“Why is life so hard?”
It can also be the difference in leading a community like OSE with clear and honest intentions, and constantly wondering,
“Am I equipped with what it takes to see this mission through?”
And that’s where self-awareness meets perspective.
Now you may be asking after all of this mumbo jumbo… “What’s your end game here, Deanna?”
And I will be quick to answer: inner peace.
With that laid right out there for all to see, I know very well now that to achieve inner peace, perspective matters.
And from here, it looks like a lot of us have excuses for why we don't do what we know we're capable of doing. We don't have the time, we don't have the money, we don't have the organization skills, we don't have the education...
But all of these resources are within our reach. Telling ourselves that we're too X to achieve our dreams is the kind of negative thinking that keeps us right where we are.
And waiting until it's the perfect time is only putting off the changes you know you have to make until a moment you're not even sure will will ever come.
If you’re not living in constant fear for your life, and if you’re not living in a state of extreme poverty (let’s first take a moment to be grateful for that), you do have the time to look at your current situation and ask,
1. “Am I doing what I told myself I wanted to do?”,
2. “What purpose do I give myself to serve here?” and,
3. “Am I CHOOSING to be a positive force or a negative force?”
I have asked myself these questions many times, and especially over these last few months. I have asked myself why the world has granted me good “luck” and opportunity, why I wasn’t born in a place that now finds itself at war, and I have looked at myself from the outside and wondered, “What are you doing to achieve what you set out to do in a positive way?”
With this exposure of my journey to becoming more self-aware, I want to share one important takeaway:
We all have “gifts”; “natural inclinations”.
It’s part of the beauty in being a piece of the universal soul. Rather than struggling against the current to do what seems to matter to everyone else, you must do what comes naturally to you. It’s easy for a reason- because it’s part of your utility here on Earth.
And the greatest impact I can make here- the purpose that I’ve committed to- is in sharing resources, because sharing resources comes easily to me. I do not make the mistake of pretending that our group conversation sessions are charity. Quite simply, doing research, finding information, and discussing it is something I’m both good at and enjoy. And helping others learn is something I enjoy!
While part of the purpose of OSE is bringing a more diverse group of people together in an online space committed to sharing resources on eco-consciousness and sustainable living (which are more often than not written in English and therefore extremely limited in perspective), the other part is simply meant for people of ALL languages to come and share stories and experiences, and to give each person- no matter his/her/their social status, culture, religion, or any other category that helps us better make over-simplified sense of the world- a place to exchange ideas and have their voices heard.
With all of this, I leave you with a metaphor.
Imagine that we are all keys.
Or if you don’t like this, that we all hold the key- the secret- to life.
Not the secret to every life, but the secret to our own.
A key is useful for opening a door, right?
But if you are trying to unlock a door that is not the one you were meant to open, what good are you doing anyone by trying to force yourself (or your key) into a lock?
Why try to open doors to which you are not the key?
Why not instead open the door that you were made to open?
The door that will make you feel useful?
Perhaps the timing isn’t right- maybe you’re not ready (or don’t have the time) to join the conversation.
Perhaps the instructor isn’t right- after reading this you think, “There’s no way I’m getting in an online classroom with this person.”
(In the very near future, we’ll have others leading the sessions, so fear not!)
Or perhaps the topic isn’t right.
Whatever the reason may be that you haven’t yet decided to come, I hope that in writing this you have a better idea of why the OSE weekly group sessions are available, that you know the community is here to support you and to help you find the door you’re meant to open, that you’re aware of the availability of the resources you need to achieve your own sense of purpose, and also that I have given you a glimpse of what it looks like to participate in the exploration of your “self” and becoming “self-aware”, as well as (at the risk of embarrassing myself in front of my students, their parents, and potential clients) shown what it means to act without fear for the purpose of reaching a goal.
If just one person comes to class and walks away saying, “From this discussion, I believe that I can encourage people in my community to share the stories they have related to it,” or, “I am confident now in telling my own story and understand the importance of sharing it,” I will consider the class a success.
Thanks for those who have come out to join us so far- keep the ideas free-flowing!
And thank you to those who support the OSE mission, with all that it entails.
If you want to know how you can do more to contribute to or simply be a part of the conversation, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and join our Facebook Group for more language resources and conversation!