About this time 6 years ago, I was interviewing for what would be my last big corporate job. I was asked what I would call my best and worst attributes. My answer was the same thing for both – that I am rather even keel in personality and approach. Meaning, that I am extremely calm and level-headed in the face of utter chaos, which is highly desirable for designers who are often faced with needing to pull a miracle out of a hat with a deadline of yesterday and no resources. It really takes a lot for me to rage-flip the cosmic tables. Inversely, when good things happen, I tend to take it all in stride, which I have discovered can be maddening (to others) in a corporate environment where much enthusiasm is faked. (Really, to get me to appear super-excited, there needs to be a combination of sleep deprivation, booze, cake, and either bunnies or kittens, preferably both.)
And more than half a decade later, I have discovered that I continue to expand and deepen this approach in relation to most things, tempered with experience and soaked in memory. I find it hard to get riled up over whatever is “the worst thing ever to happen to” (dance, Paganism, art, you name it) that week. Nor am I quick to embrace “the best thing ever to happen to’s” either. At this point I can look back at over 20 years on the Pagan Path (and coming on 17 years in dance) and note multiple examples of best and worst things ever that have come and gone. But more importantly, I can see how change has had a role in growth, acceptance, diversity, representation, and community structure. I can reflect on remember the stories my mentors and elders have shared with me from the years before, can see the changes in my cohorts and contemporaries, and watch the next generation blossom and shift in the winds.
I call this vantage point “Crossroad Vision.” You are able to see where you are coming from, what’s happening now, and you get a glimpse of the future. And the calmer you are, the farther out you can see. Though it can be rather frustrating to have this multifaceted grounded view of time while others are flipping their respective shit in the hot moment (for both sides of the equation). One can get lost in despair about change not happening (at all or fast enough). But Change, it can be a slow, sneaky motherfucker. It rarely happens under your direct watch, and much more quietly and smoothly then you might think.
So I wanted to share this little metaphor about how ideas appear and cause change over time.
Let’s say you are going to a week-long outdoor spiritual festival in the woods. It’s clothing optional and you’re camping. You practice the metaphorical interpretation of “ye shall be naked in your rites” versus the literal view, so being naked in front of other people is so NOT your thing.Day 1: You arrive late in the afternoon and drive as directed to your camp site…turn the corner and get a full view of someone’s naked butt. AH! Overt! Overt! You try and focus on the road and spend quite a bit of time getting your camping set-up just right before it gets too dark.
Day 2: You wake up finish setting up the grounds, and decide to go on a walk…and OH MY there are more naked people. WHERE DO THEY PUT STUFF? THAT’S A LOT OF SUNSCREEN…WHAT ABOUT BUGS?
Day 3: As you settle into a workshop circle, you note there are 3 naked people. Yeap, them people be nekkid. That’s a thing.
Day 4: You find yourself changing in your tent with the flap open. It’s too hot anyway.
Day 5: You’re changing outside of the tent. Who cares? Easier than inside anyway.
Day 6: You’re removing layers at the drum circle, mostly everyone seems to be missing a fair bit of attire anyway. Safety and all that, you know.
Day 7: You don’t even see any difference between naked and attired folks. No big deal. And now you’re thinking about next year how much less stuff you would have to pack if you didn’t wear clothes every day.
Yes, it’s a fun (and um, somewhat true) story, but consider the gradual change in mind and relative personal comfort about nudity as a metaphor for any really any new idea taking root. It may not happen in a week, but as people get exposed to more correct, current, and balanced ways of perceiving gender, sexuality, race, spirituality, ability, and more – they slowly and steadily begin to get used to those ideas, and learn to respect and/or embrace them. First people are made aware of the idea, then they see more of it, and begin to understand it – and it all happens at the pace of their own personal comfort and inner workings. Some people work fast and move gracefully as they absorb, some people work slow and stagger clumsily and awkwardly into it. But most people DO embrace change in the end. Some people have a lot of fears and misconceptions they need to let go of first. Others may be watch quietly, and slowly absorb the changes into their psyche. There’s no telling how it’s going to go down. Patience: it is definitely a thing.
So my advice to you, if you find yourself swept up into the next big “best/worst ever,” take a moment to step back and position yourself on the crossroads. Take a good long look in all directions, and breathe in deep. Remember that Change is enduring, often adorned with Coyote’s eyes and Fox’s tail…but we’re all just naked at the end.
(This post was originally published in December 2015 on the original blog. I’m in the midst of finishing up the first draft of my book “The Witch’s Cauldron” – so as soon as that gets on the way, I’ll be generating new content!)