On Chameleons, Nomads and Pilgrims

“When you change but you do not journey, you are a chameleon

When you journey but you do not change, you are a nomad

When you change while you journey, you are a pilgrim.”

This profound quote from Mark Nepo’s book “Holding Nothing Back” is particularly relevant as November sways into our lives to tell us to become a true pilgrim by embracing the change just like water, wind and sun weathers the rock.

I remember a conversation with a childhood friend with whom I had lost contact over the years and when we connected over Facebook, she said “Wow, I almost didn’t recognize you from the kid I used to know.”  She was right and she was wrong.  I had changed but that kid was also still there inside me.

We often mistake change as giving up the past and moving on.  It isn’t so.  Change is integrating the past while providing the mindset and the environment for the new to inhabit.

A true pilgrim will

  • travel light like a nomad
  • adapt to his environment like a chameleon
  • stay alert to the lessons along the way
  • be open to the arrival of new clan members
  • remember that no act of kindness is ever forgotten and
  • understand that though the body atrophies, age brings a different richness to our mental and emotional state.

The pilgrim knows that resistance is futile.

Journey along the edge of the Earth.
Picture courtesy VladimirKush.com
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On Gratitude and Grace

The Tree of Life. Art courtesy Vladimir Kush

November last year was a little hard to put it mildly.  And as with life, before you could say “Jack Sparrow”, a year had turned.  Funny how when every year reaches October, I greet it with the same sense of fleeting nostalgia.  Like January is the dawn of the day and November is 11 pm at night.  It’s going…soon to be gone.  Till another dawn of the new year.

I also tend to panic in November.  I go back to resolutions some started bravely with much gusto and resolve.  Some complete.  Some left by the wayside to be picked up, dusted and relaunched again on January 1.  But just when November is ebbing, it brings out all the guns and firepower.  She unleashes a show stopper of a holiday.  The Thanksgiving weekend.  I must tell you, this is my favorite one among all.  From Diwali to Halloween to Christmas.  Nothing beats Thanksgiving in its utter simplicity of intent.

About gratitude and grace.  About our relationships.  About abundance that exists already.  Every roof over our head, every plate filled with food, every child healthy, every heart that is open.  It is also about the bounty around us.  All creatures great and small.  None less than the other.  None greater than another.  For each day that we greet, to be able to walk upon the sustaining earth, under an endless blue roof, wearing borrowed shoes, hoping to leave behind traces of existence.

Angeles Arrien, the wise woman, social anthropologist extraordinaire says “The word gratitude comes from the word “gratia” from which we get the word gift and grace.  What moments of grace have you experienced this year?  As Meister Eckhart says if the only word you say today is Thank You, it should be enough.”

Here’s to us.  In a world filled with uncertainties, I hope today we turn off the TV and shut out the news of fluctuating markets or failing economies, anger, greed and hatred.  Focus instead on the lessons of the past and the gifts of the present.

Gratitute and grace…it is about who we have in our lives, what we should be thankful for and why acknowledgment brings increase.

Happy Thanksgiving!