A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.- Albert Einstein
The first sign of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -Aldo Leopold
I am not sure if Albert Einstein and Aldo Leopold ever crossed paths, but if they did, they probably had a lot to talk about when it comes to pondering human nature. Thinking about that reminds me of the 1985 movie “Insignificance”, where Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein, Senator Joseph McCarthy and Joe DiMaggio converge and collide over the course of one night in Manhattan.
So what if Einstein and Leopold actually crossed paths and connected? What pearls of wisdom might they have for those of us living today, and for those who will hopefully follow us?
One might be that if we want to widen the circle of compassion for other beings with whom we share this world, we must first widen the circle of compassion for ourselves, Waiting for others or for the world to change is futile and can serve as an excuse for us not to change-we give up or surrender our power and potential to others when we live in this mindset.
We end up passing the buck, or kicking the can down the road (or insert your other favorite metaphor here!) when we do so, and end up with predictable, eerily familiar, yet still uncomfortable results. Change always starts from within, and we are all capable of change.
A second gem of wisdom might be that each of us has unlimited potential, wisdom and resources available to change in every moment, if we release and transform deeply held stories and beliefs of separation, scarcity, and other forms of fear. These stories and beliefs have taken a huge collective toll on planet earth over the last few centuries and decades. Enslaving the biosphere for private, short-term gain is tantamount to enslaving human and other natural communities. It diminishes our souls, our spirits and our capacity for faith, hope and change. It insatiably drains and destroys the health of natural and human communities worldwide, severing the web of life that has sustained us all for countless generations.
In the end, and in our heart of hearts, we know it’s not sustainable. It’s destructive. Would it not be wiser to act as guardians and stewards of our natural commons, rather than consumers?
Would it not be a tremendous act of love, compassion and humility to leave future generations a healthier, restored planet so that all beings may thrive and flourish, and so that everyone with whom we share the planet today can also experience and enjoy this as well?
Where can we individually stand up and speak our truth? Where in our lives can we take a stand for what’s really important to us, or to someone or something else? Where can we be more aware, more kind, more loving, more forgiving, more encouraging?
There’s always time to do what really matters-what matters is that we create the time to do so, and to take action in each and every moment, even if it feels like very small steps. I believe that’s what Mahatma Gandhi likely did every day for most of his life. What if he also had encouraging words of wisdom stemming from a chance encounter and conversation with Leopold and Einstein?
“Be the change you wish to see in the world” immediately comes to mind.
May this new year of 2014 be incredibly powerful, transformational, and positively life-changing for you, and for everyone whose life you touch and impact. May you also remember that you’re never too old, it’s never too late, and never too hard to make changes in your life.
After all, change is a constant part of our nature.