Wise Choices, Natural Flow


This week I had the extraordinary pleasure of speaking with the Director of the Bali Institute for Global Renewal, Marcia Jaffe, who for the last few years has been offering groundbreaking multicultural and inter-generational leadership programs in collaboration with the indigenous Balinese people. She shared that she began working with the Balinese right at the time they began asking themselves how they might have played a part in creating the terrorist bombings in their country in 2003 — and how they could best respond moving forward. Their answer: that the Balinese people had unwittingly over-catered to the tourist industry and the values of a more consumer-oriented society, and what was required was a return to honor their indigenous lineage and principles for living. This courageous response to death and tragedy is now shifting the course of Bali and its future, inclusive of the global leadership programs offered by the Bali Institute.

This story reminded me in many ways of the powerful changes taking place in our country over the last 5-6 months. We’ve had the opportunity to open to profound realizations about the nature of greed and false power, and the need to return to embracing the simpler, enduring values that birthed America over 200 years ago. Thankfully, this re-evaluation process has led to Barack Obama’s historic election as President.

As the photo of the sailing ship changing directions above reminds me, we are collectively and individually charting a new course in our waters, with a vulnerable yet refreshing sense of reality and humility. In this time of foundational reassessment of our life choices, I find courage in the words of this powerful little poem:


by Helen Keller

Security is mostly a superstition.

It does not exist in nature,

nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run

than outright exposure.

Life is a daring adventure,

or nothing.

To keep our faces toward change

and behave like free spirits

in the presence of fate is strength

and undefeatable.

In our personal and business affairs, Susan and I and the boys are care-fully and consciously challenging many old assumptions and habits having to do with expenditures and the use of our time — so that our true priorities are placed front and center with our daily choices. This process has been and continues to be quite disorienting at times, yet as we proceed there is a growing sense of inner buoyancy, of being more steady and aligned in our present and long-term direction. We are being more true to ourselves as we craft our lives, and as a result thankfully experiencing more aliveness and peace available to us in the journey.

This process of reassessing and letting go of old ways, and then directing ourselves into an updated, more natural flow as a family, reminds me of the wisdom contained in this poem:


by Rainer Maria Rilke

This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if ropes through what is not done
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is a letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan when he nervously lets himself down

into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each minute more fully grown,
more like a king, composed, farther and farther on.

May the waters you are traveling through in your life graciously support and adapt to the growing wisdom of your choices, Gavin

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