Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cultivating optimism

Near Cape Town, South Africa

I came across an article today called Ten Reasons to Feel Good About the Future by Martha Beck. That seems like a skillful thing to cultivate this time of year. Here's an excerpt and I agree with each of these:

Thing Six: South Africa

When I went to South Africa for a book tour, I didn't expect to fall desperately in love with an entire country. It's been one of those affairs that both breaks and heals your heart—sometimes wonderful, sometimes terrible, always unforgettable. At one point, I heard a limo driver unleash a stream of such vicious racism that I felt physically ill with shame, until I started discussing this experience with other South Africans of all races. Astonishingly, they met horrific prejudice with neither fear nor hatred but with deep, improbable, battle-scarred love and optimism. They refused to relinquish hope. If South Africans can still trust in the future and work toward peace and justice, how can I do less?

Thing Seven: Dogs

Dogs are my favorite role models. I want to work like a dog, doing what I was born to do with joy and purpose. I want to play like a dog, with total, jolly abandon. I want to love like a dog, with unabashed devotion and complete lack of concern about what people do for a living, how much money they have, or how much they weigh. The fact that we still live with dogs, even when we don't have to herd or hunt our dinner, gives me hope for humans and canines alike.

Thing Eight: The Marriage of Eastern and Western Philosophies

I lived in Asia during my early 20s. At the time, I didn't realize that studying Eastern languages and cultures was changing my worldview. Decades later, I see that millions of Americans are asking those same questions. Asian philosophical concepts have been filtering across the Pacific so long that they no longer sound nonsensical. Jews, Christians, Muslims, and atheists are learning yoga and meditation, dabbling in tai chi and feng shui. This blend of East and West is bringing out the best of both cultures, and I'm delighted to be watching it.

So here's my advice to you for the New Year: Find a way to visit Cape Town, get a dog and, for goodness' sake, meditate! Your life will be better for all three, I assure you.

1 comment:

  1. This is very good, Ellie. Thank you for posting and directing us to this article.


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