'Be careful what you wish for'. It's true. I've been living with this in my head for a week now and it's a hard lesson to learn. There I was wishing to learn how to approach engaging with people on the subject of animal welfare; how to do it effectively and eloquently; how to be a positive influence. I've spent most of my adult life using the lead by example method and while it hasn't been entirely ineffective, I always felt I should be doing more.
Let's say that leading by example is Method A, and being more outspoken and confrontational about animal suffering is Method B. A wasn't working and B was questionable according to my old way of thinking but was perhaps The Next Step, one I had to take to play my part in affecting change. Of course I was and am a complete novice at B and, like a child walking in her mother's shoes, clumsy and prone to landing on my face. See also: big gob, short fuse.
So I wrote this post. Then the next day, after a good night's sleep, I wrote this one and that should really have been where I left it for now. Except I'd wished for some learning and it was about to land on my head from a great height.
A conversation of sorts started on the first post and it pushed all my buttons. Instead of saying,'Please refer to my follow-up post' I reacted in the worst way I could have done. Damage was done. Here and privately. Hurt was inflicted. It was horrible. I was horrible. There was a thread of well-intentioned honesty through my reaction but it became twisted in my own frustration at not being as eloquent as I wished. I am ashamed.
My heart ached (aches) as if it would break and there was my lesson: Method B is fucked up. There is a way of raising awareness and emotion that can lead to long term, personal change. Method B is not it.
Here's where I am - not just on animal welfare, on everything: I still believe that awareness needs to be raised. I still believe that the voiceless need us to speak for them. I still think we need to care and contribute.
I also believe this (still): the core of everything everywhere is energy. In a healthy state that energy flows freely, with a purpose of creation and perpetuation. All the things we believe to be positive - creativity, love, kindness, social cohesion, art, science, compassion, happiness, health etc etc - contribute to that free flow, adding momentum and power. In an unhealthy state that energy tangles and stops flowing, leading to stagnation, toxicity and all the things we call negative - war, disease, hate, ignorance, cruelty etc. It's not black and white; some things contribute to both. It's a long game.
For some of us, the path we choose is to work on the positive; adding to that momentum; staying in the flow. For others, maybe especially ones like me with a family history of OCD, ha, the path leads us to work on undoing those tangles. Straightening the Universal cushions, if you will. A little metaphysical Feng Shui perhaps. They are equally powerful.
I believe that the highest vibrational level for us humans is Healer. We are able, with our developed spirituality and creativity, capable of walking either of those paths and healing the flow as co-creators. I also see that there are so many more methods than A and B. For now I'm looking at Method C, which involves a whole lot of A and a sprinkling of a more gentle, kinder Method B.
Drawn as I am to activism I can see that in my own life I have examples of walking the walk, not least of which is my day-job, raising funds for an organisation whose mission is to help create 'a world where all whales and dolphins are safe and free'. Even in my little role I am making a difference there. I support charities I believe in, and work that I know to be world-changing. I have brought two dogs who had lost everything into my family where they live in a big circle of mutual love, benefiting us all.
These are things I do with the emotional, physical part of being human and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to do so. I love being a human. And now I'm going - as the seasons change - to look again to the spiritual side of the experience and try to integrate them all; mind, body and spirit.
My father and I are not close, and when I was younger I thought we had nothing in common. Now it makes me smile to think that he was and is - by qualification, profession and calling - an electrical engineer who worked at the highest levels. He spends his days imagining, creating and testing systems that ensure the free flow of energy. That seems like a good ambition to me and one I'll attempt to emulate in my own way.
I am grateful for my lessons, and my teachers, even when they arrive sooner and more abruptly than I'd imagined. Even when, I suppose, they involve loss because of my subsequent actions. I didn't sign up for the easy class.