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On Thursday my wife and I are flying out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; we are headed to Portland, Oregon for the World Domination Summit.
This trip is going to be pretty amazing. I’ve never flown on a plane, I’ve never been to Portland or the west coast, and I’ve never been to a conference like this before.
It will be even more amazing because I’m going to meet my mastermind buddy Niall Doherty, and a friend from Twitter, Kat Ostrow. (If you’re going to be at WDS, give me a shout. I’d love to say hello!)
All in all I expect it to be pretty awesome, but leading up to this trip there has been something in the back of my mind that is both sobering and inspiring me.
As we fly out of Milwaukee, my sister in law will be flying out of North Carolina. She is not flying to Portland, or any destination in the US. Instead, she is flying to the Guangdong province of China.
She is flying to China to adopt a child. This by itself is pretty amazing. This is her family’s second adoption, they adopted their 8 year old son from South Korea when he was born.
But this adoption is different. The child she is adopting is four years old. She only speaks Chinese, and she has spent her entire life in a Chinese orphanage.
Just think about this for a moment. This girl’s entire worldview is about to be shattered. The entire structure of her life is about to change and be rebuilt. Her environment, her language, her eating habits, her friends, her social circle, even her name is going to change.
I can’t stop thinking about this, about how monumental this change is going to be for her. When I think about it, it inspires me to question my own worldview, to crack it open, to examine what I accept and what I believe.
This is a challenge because we live our lives with worldviews that we accept as individuals and as a group. These ideas ultimately form not only the shape and fabric of society, but the shape and fabric of the self.
It is deceptively easy to live without examining these assumptions. In learning that seeing the world is the key to seeing the self we take time to look past the categorizing we do in our environments, which gives us an opportunity to see these things in a clearer light, but at this stage it is important to go further.
When you consider the very remaking of your existence, as is about to happen to this four year old girl, taking time to examine the brick in a wall or to say hello to a person working as a store clerk is not quite enough to understand what is really happening.
It is here we step beyond and begin to question the filters and assumptions we hold. In looking past them we can see them, and in seeing them we can begin to change them.
For example, I’ve been questioning the need to own a home, and the base conflict over owning a home boils down to this:
I am torn between the urge to root myself in this community, and the urge to be untethered. I am questioning the ties that a home, a mortgage, and the things that accompany it all bring.
However in the beginning, I wanted to own a home. I wanted to own a home becasue that was a worldview that I accepted.
The idea of home ownership has been writ large into the fabric of American society. It is an idea that has been perpetrated upon us by government, and has trickled throughout society in such a way that few people question the need or desire to own a home.
Yet we can see the damage that idea has brought to the economy.
Despite my questioning, the foreseeable future has me living in a house, but within that I continue to question and embrace change. An example is the idea that I need to use soap and shampoo to bathe myself daily.
Niall Doherty coveres this nicely in this post, (in which my wife is quoted for a female’s perspective). It’s a bit of synchronicity that Niall and I seem to have read the same article at the same time and embarked on the same questioning of this idea.
With that in mind, my wife and I stopped using soap and shampoo in February, and you know what, they are totally unnecessary. (Read Niall’s post for more info)
Last November I began to question the food that I eat. I had, for my entire life, been a typical American in that I ate meat, cheese, dairy, processed foods, and all of the other goodness that industrial farming has made available to us.
I ate, and I ate, and I ate, and as a result I weighed 310 pounds. At 6’2″ I wasn’t grossly obese, but I was definitely overweight.
Up until then I was generally aware that the food I was eating was slowly killing me. I was also aware that the food I was eating is mostly sourced through processes that not only strip the food of its inherent nutrition, but also destroy the earth we inhabit. (If you’re interested in my take on food you can read the guest post I did over at the Jewish Cooking Chick)
I was aware of this, but not really doing anything about it. I had been exercising and had lost a good 40 pounds or so, but it wasn’t until I read Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet that I was able to truly see beyond the ideas about food that I had accepted.
After that, I adopted a vegan diet.
Eating a vegan diet means that we have no animal products in the house, no meat, cheese, butter, milk or other foods that require refrigeration, and so lately I’ve been questioning whether or not we need a refrigerator.
When we return from Portland our fridge will be mostly empty since we will have eaten everything before leaving, so when we get back we’re going to unplug the fridge and see if we can live without it.
This experiment will necessitate a change in our buying habits, but that’s something that’s worth questioning too. Do we need to buy a dozen apples at a time? If we buy a half dozen instead there’s no reason we can’t keep them in the pantry and eat them before they naturally begin to deteriorate. These are after all plants that thrive naturally in the earth’s atmosphere.
The changes that I am embracing and the change our niece is about to experience are very different. If we look at the progression I just illustrated we can see that all change has rises out of a trigger or event. I didn’t just walk into the kitchen and say,
“Hey, what the hell do I need a fridge for?”
First I had to question the food that I eat. Before that I had to question the impact the food I was eating had on my body, and before that I had to question how I was taking care of myself. Within the space of taking care of myself I questioned whether or not I need soap and shampoo, and the umbrella over all of this is the questioning of where and how I live.
Change does not have to be earth shattering in the way that my niece is going to experience, and here is what you can do to embrace the power of change.
1. Be aware
Raising your awareness allows you to be more cognizant of what is around you, and in that cognizance you will be able to see what in your worldview needs questioning.
Just like in the progression above, it is my awareness of place and connection that allows me to see the threads connecting these elements together. When I embrace the power of change in one thing, I see the things that are connected to it, and I can question and evaluate those things, and again embrace change.
2. Be open
The most dangerous thing about a belief is when we are not willing to entertain any ideas outside of our own.
When you are open, you accept that there is more than one way, and by being open you create a flexibility that allows you to entertain the entire realm of possibility. This openness is the next step. Being aware allows you to see the threads that tie the elements of your worldview together, and being open allows you to accept that your worldview is not the only view.
This doesn’t mean you have to accept an outside idea or reject your own ideas, but by being open, you create the possibility, and in possibility there is infinite opportunity.
3. Take action
Change is the agent of the future, but without action we can not effect change.
Seeing the threads that tie your worldview together and opening yourself to ideas outside of your worldview reveals the realm of possibility, but unless you are willing to take action, the possibilities will wither and die.
This does not mean you throw the baby out with the bathwater. Taking action seems like a monumental step, not unlike adopting a four year old girl, but action is much smaller than that.
For instance, you can unplug the fridge for a week and see if you can live without it.
You can stop using soap and shampoo for a couple of months and see if it’s an idea you want to accept.
You can write down the very next thing you have to do in order to be the change you want to see in the world, and get yourself one step closer to being there.
Change isn’t just the agent of the future, it is an inevitability. Change will happen, with or without you. The only real difference is whether you are going to embrace change, or be swept away by it.
Our four year old niece is about to be swept away by change, and in the beginning it will probably overwhelm her, but I believe she will adapt and quickly embrace change instead of allowing herself to drown in it.
As my wife and I hop a plane to Portland on Thursday Portland Oregon and the World Dominiation Summit will lay out on the horizon ahead of me, but much of my heart and mind will be with a four year old girl in China..
Imagine you are a four year old girl in China, and imagine the earth shattering change of being taken from the only home, language and people you’ve known. See and embrace the power of change and if you believe in that power, spread these ideas via the tweet and like buttons below.