Life is what happens when you’re making other plans

Morning Garden

A cup of tea in the garden in the morning inspires reflections on where we've been, and where we're going in this Transition. Photo:

A dawn chorus of birdsong. The rising sun filters through whispering leaves, the promise of a glorious day. I dress in the same comfy clothes I wore yesterday, splash water on my face, turn the kettle on and let the cat in. Walk barefoot across the yard to open the door of the coop, greeted by clucking chickens with wings flapping, eager for pasture, insects, and a bit of scattered grain.

Wash up and take a cup of tea along with notebook and pen outside to the wooden bench by the kitchen door, perched like a shepherd keeping watch over garden and flock. The kids are still asleep, and I’ve got some time before garden and kitchen require my attention. I have time to write, a sense of what I want to say, yet where to begin?

What a long, strange trip it’s been

Eighteen months ago I was living comfortably in a new house in a vibrant college town. I had a job that paid well, and provided deeply meaningful work with leaders in my field. I supported my family, had a great time doing it, and the future looked bright. Then the grant funds dried up, my position was eliminated, and I was sent off with a month’s severance and best wishes.

A year later I entered “accelerated foreclosure proceedings” after telling my lender the credit card was maxed, retirement plan depleted, and I could no longer make the mortgage payments.

Concerning resilience:
Seeing isn’t believing;
Believing is seeing.

We’ve walked this journey rather peacefully, and have often been asked how we can deal so calmly with all the stress. The question has sometimes puzzled us: we don’t feel so stressed. We have each other, we have a supportive community, and the future feels bright.

What we believe determines our resilience and ability to thrive. It determines how we process life’s happenings, whether we respond to the challenge of change with despair or hope. What we believe influences whether we recognize the resources or opportunities that lie before us. When faced with life’s challenges, belief determines whether we merely survive, or whether we live with a sense of abundance, peace and joy.

My life as hologram

How is this related to Transition today? The Transition Movement exists as a response to diminishing fossil fuel reserves, escalating greenhouse gas emissions, and the implications of both on the economy and human society. In other words, a response to the mess we’re in right now. Our family is on the crest of this wave, and we’re not alone.

Transition is a social experiment, and includes a heart and soul component. It’s about community, relationships, and human behavior. Transition challenges us to a new view of the world, a holistic view that looks generations into the future. Transition inspires communities to positively, intentionally and collectively create an identity for this future, and work together to get there.

My family’s sense of well-being isn’t based on a balance sheet; it’s rooted and grounded in relationships. Friends have helped with the job search by networking on my behalf, by exploring entrepreneurial ideas with us. Women from a local CSA bartered with us, a food share for weeding a garden. My brother found us a place to rent, a farm site in deeply rural Minnesota at half the cost of our home in the city, and helped us move 140 miles in a snowstorm.

Friendship gifts

When the short sale came suddenly, with a closing scheduled within 48 hours, a dear friend helped us by carting lumber and concrete blocks out of our garage on Mother’s Day.

Friends continue to email, call, and visit. An acquaintance brought us to tears with a gift of $500 “seed money” to help us get started in our new place. He said he thought it would help to know someone cared, and he was right. We used it to purchase chickens, plant a food forest, and a huge garden; both an immediate return and long term investment with a staple commodity to provide for our community.

Transition calls us to cultivate relationships, cultivate friends, and live a generous life. This can be informed by a spiritual practice, or by any worldview focused on the common good.

Transition provides a mutually gratifying experience as we become part of a web of relationships, a space where shared sorrows are halved and joys are doubled, but where ideas are multiplied exponentially. Heart and soul can also help us stay positive when things look bad, or when they are bad; hard things still happen, but have less power to hurt us.

Resilience isn’t about what happens; it’s about how we react to what happens. Believing is seeing the good in each other, in the world, and in the potential born each glorious new day.

Believing is seeing.

— Patricia Benson for Transition Voice

Transition US logo One in a series of monthly columns from Transition US, a non-profit organization providing support, encouragement, networking and training for Transition groups in the United States.

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