“The future belongs to those who plan for it today.” Malcolm X.
Today at 10 am, the Confederate flag will be coming down in South Carolina. Despite the claims to heritage and history, its most recent significance began in 1961 when it was hung as a repudiation of the Civil Rights Movement that was upsetting the status quo of the white establishment. It went up to remind those who were descended from African slaves that they were, and should always feel themselves to be, second-class citizens. By voting to take it down, the politicians in South Carolina have finally acknowledged the sins of the past. It is but a beginning.
There are moments in time when we are given the opportunity to do something that is particularly meaningful. These opportunities may be fleeting, you may look back later and realize that you failed to seize the moment. We are often overcautious, uncertain to make changes in our lives, trying to plan for every consequence. So much of life is beyond our control, though we delude ourselves into thinking we are the ones in control.
I often feel blessed to live at a crossroads, at the intersection of cultures and races, able to look down both sides and see the similarities as well as understand the contrasts. It gives me a perspective, allows me to present different points of view, so that I can help one road see how the other road lives. We all live at a crossroads, between tomorrow and yesterday. At times we spend hours staring back at the past, weighted down by our stories. Or we become lost in the future, in the hope of things to come. Although we need to make good plans for our future, for the future of our family, our community, our world, we also need to make sure we are not missing out on the ‘now’, we are not missing the pleasures and treasures that are right in front of us.
Last week I watched a woman whose life abruptly changed in a moment. She was a neuroscientist, teaching at Harvard, when she had a stroke. She was in her 30’s at the time. She related the way she observed herself having the stroke, amazed and in awe of her body. She had realizations about the connectedness within her, of all her interdependent cells. She saw how connected she was to the outside world. The stroke damaged the left side of her brain, leaving her without memories, and having to learn like an infant, starting from scratch. She spoke of the silence and peace that she felt when her left brain was the most damaged. The left hemisphere is usually full of ‘chatter’, it contains our ego, our sense of self, it is judgmental and bossy. With only the right side functioning, she was able to respond to people intuitively, reading their body language, hearing their tone of voice, while she understood very little of the words they spoke. That knowledge gave her new insight, a new way of living in the world. She now makes time to slow down, to quiet the chatter and pay attention to her intuition.
We never know when we may miss an important message, a reminder of lessons we need to learn. Today as we celebrate the opportunity to carve a new path, we should make sure that our actions are true to the future that we want. It is not just by wishing and hoping that we achieve our dreams, but by actively living in a way that assures us of the outcomes we desire. Have a wonderful weekend family!