Who am I? I ask myself.
I awaken each morning, assuming my place in the world.
Who am I as I place my feet on the earth?
And the day begins…
Who am I as I eat for sustenance, as I work for livelihood, as I sleep for rest?
I am taught by the world around me that I am an individual who needs to eat, who needs to work, who needs to sleep. That I am an individual who is in charge of the choices I make. That I am an individual who plans and carries out those plans. I am the individual who uses the resources I need to accomplish my goals, who builds on the backs of others who used what they needed to survive before me.
And if I am kind and considerate, I’m a relatively good person, doing my best to express care, to add some goodness as I walk through life. Surely, I show myself as a thoughtful individual, doing my best. I protest, I march, I write letters, and do all I can. There’s a lot in life to respond to, and it’s easy to get tired and overwhelmed. But I do my best.
And then sometimes, I go deeper within. I discover that I am connected to everything. If I go far enough, I learn we’re all related. The pet on my lap is an extension of me. I walk, and see how connected I am to the trees. My conscience becomes more activated. I have to take better care of this body, this country, and this earth. I cannot become complacent about my responsibility for that which is connected to me. At times, it’s obvious. At times, it’s hard work. There’s a lot in life to which I’m connected that I must respond to, and still, it’s easy to get tired and overwhelmed. But I do my best.
Sometimes, we’re graced with a peek even deeper, where we see beyond being connected. A glimpse that we’re not just connected, but we are actually and truly One with that which we have known as other. More than being inter-connected with all of life, we are that life. We are Life itself. It’s like we’re not connected to our fingers and toes, but we ARE our fingers and toes. And the trees, and the polar bears, and the coral reefs. We are the tired and the poor knocking on our doors. Indeed, we are also the oil barons and the climate deniers, as well as those who have been working on climate change issues for decades. We are that. All of that. Every bit of that.
Still, there is a lot to respond to in life. Suddenly though, there is a different energy surging through us to fuel that response. Suddenly there is a container for all the complexity of this life, inner and outer, that seems to hold the challenges as our very reason to be alive. We are here to meet those challenges, to somehow hold the variety of life as it is expressing itself, and to give our all to bringing the energy of Oneness, the energy of Love, into as many parts of that One as we can. Tired or overwhelmed, it doesn’t matter. We now know when to rest, when to go within, and when to go to battle.
There are those who do not see as we are seeing now, but we can hold them in that love. There are mistakes we’ve made that we have to face, and we can forgive ourselves and hold ourselves in that love. There is, indeed, much to do, much to change, much to move into. This is our responsibility now, to use the gift of seeing beyond division to help create the world that can better mirror who we actually are, this one body of life, this one body of love, with so much potential yet to be discovered. We begin to learn that the One includes both the fear and the love. We learn that it holds the sense of separation and the sense of unity. It holds the overwhelming complexity of it all.
We are being stretched into something new. Whether we are feeling good or bad, we know it is our destiny to just move forward as wholeheartedly as we can. The path and the outcome reside in the Mystery. The call is simply to scream YES.
A resident of the Berkshires for 20 years, Susan Olshuff has devoted her life to spiritual pursuits and service to her community. She has worked as a development consultant to many nonprofits, identifying and engaging potential supporters and donors. She studied politics and worked for President Obama’s second campaign as field organizer for western Massachusetts. She has a long history of working with environmental organizations. She currently helps run an energy efficiency program in Pioneer Valley and is in the process of developing an education program that will help young people find a new relationship to fear and insecurity, something needed in our world today. In her spare time these days, she enjoys mentoring millennials and being with her three grandchildren.