• San Gabriel Mountains (Photo - Ricraider).

      San Gabriel Mountains (Photo – Ricraider).

      Have you ever dreamed about being born again into somebody else?

      By Tera Landers

      When I was a girl, I had fine, straight, bright red hair and freckles. My hair and freckles were the cause of so many nicknames, and I hated all of them. What I desperately wanted was long, curly, dark hair and beautifully tanned skin with no freckles. I tried permanents for my hair. I tried suntanning with baby oil. But no matter what I did … there I was – someone with straight red hair, fair skin, and freckles.

      Maybe as a young child you wanted to be the fastest runner. Or the best speller. Or the funniest person in class.

      As we got a little bit older, we realized that if we ran every day, we could get faster and go longer distances.

      If we did spelling drills and learned more words, we could increase our chances at spelling bees and at scrabble.

      If we took improv classes, we could improve our timing and tell better jokes.

      If it’s our looks we are concerned with – there is no end of products and services available to help us alter our physical appearance. In college my red hair became burgundy. In my late twenties it changed to blond highlights. And now I wish it were back to the vibrant red of my childhood. Oh, to be born again!

      Sunset, La Jolla, CA (Photo - Wafic Khalil).

      Sunset, La Jolla, CA (Photo – Wafic Khalil).

      That desire is at the heart of our human nature. To birth ever new emotional and spiritual energy into our lives. To evolve. To change. To transform.

      Every archetypal hero story has this idea at the core.
      The hero starts out fairly ordinary, is presented with a challenge, stumbles over obstacles, overcomes those hurdles, and eventually comes out the other side renewed, stronger, wiser, smarter. The 2.0 version.

      We see this in stories from the Odyssey to “Star Wars: A New Hope” to the Twilight series. These narratives remind us that we can be born again into Hope.

      But for lots of us, in our everyday lives, it can be hard to remember that. We are constantly confronted by news and situations that place “hope in destruction” (Parker and Buehrens, A House of Hope). Things like watching videos of the polar ice caps melting away and living through more severe droughts. In our personal lives, bearing the untimely death of a beloved friend or family member or ending a personal relationship.

      Our minds, hearts and bodies viscerally react. Our bodies fold in. Shoulders slump. Breathing becomes shallow. It feels like too much. The transformation, change and hope we so desperately seek seems so far away.

      Apricot tree is blooming at Throop Graden in Pasadena (Photo - Staff).

      Apricot tree is blooming at Throop Graden in Pasadena (Photo – Staff).

      Some of my friends have lovingly called me “dangerously optimistic.” They gave me this title because even in the face of despair, I can usually find some ray of hope to hang onto. But this isn’t a gift I was born with. This is something I work at, pay attention to, and consider a spiritual practice. And it means it is an area you can cultivate, too. And if you are someone who wants to bring peace and healing to our beautiful Earth, this is essential. Because we will not be able to move forward without hope.

      One of the ways I strengthen this intention is finding images of hope being liberated. Once you start looking, you realize they are everywhere. A few of my recent ones:

      • finding myself at 8800 feet in the mountains, gazing up at the starry night sky, where it seemed like nothing was between me and the heavens, as shooting stars fell at the edges of the sky
      • watching friends and neighbors come together to buy and install a 1200 gallon rainwater barrel, which will catch rain from the roof and water a community permaculture garden
      • the crisp outline of the San Gabriel Mountains after the recent rainfall

      May you find liberating images of hope all around you, guiding you into a life of meaning, purpose, and transformation.

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      1. Thom Hawkins says:

        A good motto to live by for both optimists and pessimists: strive for the best, prepare for the worst. We must do our best, whether or not it makes a difference. Despair enters when we stop trying. The sweetest happiness is when we expect failure but stumble into success just because we kept trying.

      2. Garrett Rowlan says:

        wonderful words!

      3. susandiri says:

        This is a lovely contemplation–our bodies, our lands! Thanks!!

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