My Week: Letting Go

I have been working and going to school full time for about 11 years, the majority of my adult life. In the beginning it wasn’t really a choice; if I wanted to go to college, I was going to have to work for it. But then it became a habit. If I wasn’t in school while also working I didn’t feel happy—I felt empty and unfulfilled.

For the past three years, I have been working toward a doctorate in organizational leadership. The plan was to begin my dissertation this summer. For a variety of converging reasons, I have decided to withdraw from the program with the intent to re-enroll next fall.

This program has become so much a part of my life. I have worked harder than ever, and have pushed open many intellectual and emotional boundaries along the way. It was a labor of love, and every successful moment was well worth the many difficult periods of time that preceded.

Next week, others in my cohort will be enrolling in their final semester of classes. Their dissertation committees are formed, their concept papers are written, and they will walk through a congratulatory procession among our colleagues. I won’t be there in body, by my heart will sing for each of my classmates as they advance to candidacy.

This weekend, I completed work for my research assistantship and turned in my final timesheet. Tomorrow I will submit my official withdrawal form. It’s official.

Yesterday, I felt a deep sense of inner peace that I haven’t felt in a long time. I didn’t feel hurried or full or obsessive thoughts about everything I need to do. I felt like everything was flowing beautifully.

I hope to sustain these feelings into perpetuity and to cultivate increased awareness and lovingkindness as I go about my day – every day. That clarity and peace will lead to a dissertation topic that I can fully embrace by choice, rather than submit to one that I develop under the pressure of limited time. But most of all, these feelings will contribute to a better, more beautiful, and more complete life that is not dependent on the rush of academic pursuits.

Harmony

Harmony is the middle way between anarchy and institutionalism. Harmony flows gracefully and steadily while anarchy is chaotic and institutionalism is stagnant. There are times when each degree of control, or lack thereof, can be useful. Perhaps it is most helpful to be aware of the circumstances and intentionally choose the degree of control that will promote progress and peace.

Peaceful Communication

I find the use of the word nonviolent troubling. The word nonviolence assumes that violence is the norm and as long as we use words such as nonviolent the material conditions that create such a norm cannot be shifted. Using double negative language reinforces the very things we want to change; at best, it cancels out negative things. Our language should reflect the world we are trying to create. It should be superfluously affirmative and constructive. For example, we can engage in peaceful communication instead of nonviolent communication. The more we express what we desire, the more easily it will become the norm.

Changemaker Chat – B. Lee Coyne

B. Lee Coyne is a “catalyst”–journalist, counselor, educator.  He enjoys exposure to multiculturism and has had the fortune of visiting 30 countries. His hobbies run from travel to cooking, poetry to philately, and I enjoy listening to instrumental music for relaxation–that’s one man’s form of nirvana.

How did you first become interested in social change?

Social Change entered my mind even before I knew the term. I was raised by tolerant grandparents and a mom who encouraged inquiry. When my dad returned from wartime, he was just the opposite, rejecting questions and explanations on any subjects. I soon felt that this was unfair…and thus verbally rebelled. I was seeking the right to be heard.

How do you define social justice?

“Social Justice” extends beyond personal justice to imply an equal playing field. We want nobody to be disenfranchised from the rights and privileges others receive. In that context, we challenge status based on happenstance and having a “lucky break”.

What has been your most exciting experience as an activist?

Early on, I’d say it was developing Sunshine Line, which used the teleconferencing technique to reach out to the homebound elderly. This was launched in Jamaica, NY, back in 1982. Nearly as satisfying were Operation Green Thumb (converting a trash dump into an intergenerational garden) and publishing a special journal of immigrant memories called The Ellis Island Digest. As far as mobilizing an entire community, creating an outdoor mural would top the list; see salempeacemosaic.org.

What is the most interesting project in which you are currently involved?

Our Cherry City Institute is attempting to develop an Asiatowne Culture Center to accentuate Far East food, fashions and the arts. We also have been working with Greyhound Lines to upgrade its terminal, perhaps with a Native American motif.

What is your vision for a better world?

This visionary’s ultimate vision is to train the future generation to learn and practice alternatives to violence, not only war but starting with schoolyard bully behavior.

What are your plans for the future?

I will continue with my weekly radio show on aging-related topics, be an advocate for greater intergenerational cohesion, and seek out kindred souls to collaborate with in fruitful projects that reflect my affinity for humanity. Also in the wings could well be one or several social issue magazines articles and self-help books that help people get unstuck and move their lives in more positive directions.