The Rich Diversity of You and Us

You are unique – there has been nobody like you ever before and there will be no one quite like you ever again. So take a minute (or a few) to rejoice in you. Love yourself completely just as you are with all your (apparent) imperfections and maladies and quirks. This is part of your beauty too: your soul beauty you are striving to share with the world.

You do not have to take a course, buy any produce or consult any guru. The wisdom of the ages and the universes dwell in your sinews and bones, in the hairs on your head and in your toenails. A journey within can be as miraculous and amazing as any journey taken across the world. There is so much you teach yourself from your dreams, your lives, your selves, and your gifts you were born with and should be carrying lightly and with grace.

Often I have wished to be a different kind of person. Perhaps someone gifted in athletics and the use of their physical body or someone charming and extraverted, popular and gregarious. But, alas, these are not my main gifts this time round. I have to make do with who I am and what I am becoming.

Part of this becoming is making peace with my struggles, which can be great teachers of ours. A big struggle of mine is an innate restlessness, a sense of discomfort and lack of ease no matter where I am or whom I am with. I have wrestled with this all my life, and continue to do so.

The pandemic has aided me in this learning process. Now, I cannot travel anywhere. Neither can I keep quite as busy with new projects and people. I have to just plant myself where I am and try to root in more deeply to keep my balance and health in these challenging times.

Perhaps you are being faced with certain issues in your life with greater clarity and focus than in the past. Hard? Of course. Useful? Most probably, especially for our soul’s evolution and growth.

In an interesting way, this pandemic is also revealing more clearly some of the unique qualities and characteristics of our communities and collectivities. More now than ever before, every state is following a different course. My son, who lives in Boston, cannot visit me without quarantining but I can (at present) drive down to visit him. My good friend Lori in Connecticut could visit her daughter living in Northampton for twenty-four hours or less without having to quarantine according to her home state policies.

All this goes to show that like each of us, each state is different in its personalities and choices. Even in this age of global reach and instantaneous communication around the world, our locality matters greatly.

I have come to reside in Keene for about fifteen years now. Still, I often feel myself an outsider and am puzzled by aspects of life here.  Remember, I was born in Manhattan. My earliest memories are of grey sidewalks, holiday shop windows, hearing many languages, and passing a great diversity of people in the busy street. And this feels so natural to me.

Here I have grown to appreciate the rich diversity of natural beauty around us that is often breathtaking and inspiring. I have also, very gradually, come to appreciate the continuing legacy of the mills and industries that set the structures for the human inhabitants during the period of while colonialism that continues to this day.

In mill towns, I understand, certain topics and issues are uneasily discussed and questioned. There are those who own and run the places of employment, and then there are the rest of us. Many people are viewed primarily as cogs in the wheels of economic efficiency and most people implicitly know their place in the scheme of things. This may have changed somewhat since the heyday of the booming mills and toolmaking factories of Keene, yet certain tendencies remain. Just like I may be carrying the restlessness of spirit from my line of Jewish ancestors who fled the pogroms to settle uneasily in Georgia, where one family member was harassed by the Klu Klux Klan.

Yet if there is any one rule of the universe and planet earth, it is that all things change. My hair is now grey. My children are grown. My job and life are different than they were a year ago and probably will be different next year. And in these changes stands possibilities for transformation and growth: individually and collectively. We can love ourselves, and must, just as we are for our own uniqueness and gifts and – at the same time – keep working to polish ourselves ever brighter in the crucibles of our life and all lives. This is true for us, and for our community as well.

Published in the Monadnock Shopper, March 3-9, 2021 edition

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