By Neal Lemery
A friend recently asked me how can we change, how can we transform ourselves from who we are, into something that is less of what we don’t like about ourselves. What will be our legacy? How will we be remembered? How can we become our best?
“When you die, only three things will remain of you, since you will abandon all material things on the threshold of the Otherworld: what you have taught to others, what you have created with your hands, and how much love you have spread. So learn more and more in order to teach wise, long-lasting values. Work more and more to leave to the world things of great beauty. And love, love, love people around you for the light of love heals everything.”
— Francois Bourillon
Our creativity is a force, not only to fuel the light in our hearts, but to give light to others, to express thoughts that perhaps are inadequately expressed by words. Rather, we communicate with the light in our souls. Our own creativity, our own ways of expressing love, are unique to ourselves, and we are in control of that process, that message that we choose to share.
“But should you continue to be a respectful and helpful neighbor to her? Yes you should. Your behavior should reflect who you are, not who she is.”
–Advice columnist Ask Amy
We have to change our thinking.
“…how to move forward into the future in such a way as to not leave the past behind, to once and forever destroy the idea that to live one kind of life meant shedding the other; and to find some productive balance between growth and violence, between destruction and regeneration.”
–Bobby Matthews, quoted in The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present, (2019) by David Treuer
Each of our journeys is unique, wholly owned by ourselves, and what we learn from this, and how we choose to express our knowledge and our wisdom is ours alone to communicate and share.
Today, I am a different person from who I was yesterday. And, tomorrow, I will again be different, changed, transformed by today, and tomorrow, and also all that is in my past, my origins, the society in which I have lived my life.
The past is part of me, yet I can choose how I let it be a part of me, how it may be the cause of who I am, and who I am becoming. The past is a teacher, and, at times, a guide, but it is not my god, it is not directing me, nor does it command me to follow a certain path. There are many paths to wisdom and knowledge, and I am able to choose the paths that will best shape and enlighten my own journey.
I choose to build community, to find strength, determination, purpose, and resiliency. In seeking others to be my compatriots and fellow journeyers, the question of where we each have come from seems to matter less and less to me. More important is the direction that we are going.
“Bending to a common purpose is more important than arising from a common place.”
– David Treuer, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present.
Neal Lemery, author, mentor, community volunteer – His blog (https://neallemery.com/) and books: Finding My Muse on Main Street, Homegrown Tomatoes, and Mentoring Boys to Men