“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés
I have the great fortune to be a TEDx speaker coach. And with every TEDx presenter, I am blessed to hear about topics I never knew about or even considered–that’s the beauty of TED (Technology, Education & Design) and TEDx.
This year, one of the speakers gave a talk about how we all have implicit bias; whether we know it or not or whether we admit it to ourselves or others, it is ingrained in each of us, and it is our responsibility to acknowledge and repair this unseen mindset and thought process. In her talk, the speaker used this quote, “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach,” and I must say it speaks to me because, like so many of us, I want to “fix” our world, our community or our friends and family.
But the reality is the job seems so great that many times we look through the glass carefully and weigh the effort and energy it would take to complete a task and then walk away… because the project, the idea or the dream just seems too big to accomplish.
If that is where you are today, consider this quote, because if we will–collectively–just stretch out to mend the one part of the world that is within our reach, I do believe that this would be enough.
I don’t discount the noble idea that we should work to fix the entire world, but from where I stand, that would be a big deal that is growing more and more difficult to conceive of. How would one person even begin to go about doing that, considering all the flashpoints we are seeing on a daily basis here in our own country and around the world, whether it is food insecurity, water resources or lack of, population expansion and weather issues and wars and…the list is endless.
Instinctively we know not to put our trust in politics, politicians or pundits–we’ve seen where that has led and the mess that many times comes from their lack of knowledge, lack of attention to detail and (for the most part) inability to form coalitions to create any sustainable, reasonable and equitable change.
So instead of throwing up our hands at what appears to be a never-ending ocean of problems, issues and complications, perhaps if each of us would consider changing our expectations, our viewpoint or our all-consuming worry of who will get the credit for a job well done and radically consider what we can do–each of us, right where we are–to mend the part of the world that is within our reach, we might all be surprised at what can be accomplished.
If you read any news journal or follow recognized thought leaders or leaders of industry, I believe you will hear this drumbeat starting to maintain a steady rhythm, and with that consistent beat we are hearing more and more about ways in which we can contribute to the world around us. But it will take more than just hearing about the issues to actually do something about the issues we can control.
If I were to ask to you to tell me what is within your reach that you can help mend or heal or restore that would have an impact to those around you, I believe you could start where you are and, within a year, a month or even a week of your service, you would be amazed at the difference that you’ve made.
Let’s start with family. I know it is not easy to love those who have hurt you, maligned you or have not been supportive of your hopes and dreams and, while I don’t think you owe them anything beyond the basic kindness that you would afford any stranger, my idea isn’t about them, but about you. And the twist is simply this: you need to take care of you and those who you consider to be your family, because when all is right with you–emotionally, mentally and physically–you are more able to view those who have hurt you in a different light.
When you are hurting from the comments, actions and abuse of others, it wears a deep hole in your body, soul, mind and even spirit. I know you rarely show others this side of who you are due to your position in life or because you need to appear strong and firm for other family members and colleagues. For many, you’re simply too tired to care anymore about the pain and embarrassment your family causes you, but please consider this: you don’t have to fix your entire world all at once. Instead, consider stretching out to mend the part of your world that is within your reach. I am not sure how that would look for you, but I can assume that it would start with a declaration of understanding that no one is allowed to speak to you, treat you or act out towards you with disrespect; if they do, then stretch out and mend your world, body, mind and soul and keep them out of reach. You can always say hello from across the fence. You don’t have to let them into your life if they choose not to meet the basic standards of decency and kindness that they would afford a stranger.
Let me focus now on your dreams–the ones you left behind. I believe that when you stretch out to fill the part of your world that is within your reach of the dreams you set aside, left behind or no longer consider, once mended, you’ll have given yourself permission to not only thrive but to dream again and this time in real time and color.
Don’t be discouraged because you don’t have all the parts in place immediately to complete the task. Start working and doing your part, and then tell others where you’re going and see who comes alongside with opportunities to help you create, imagine or complete the dream. Understand that this is not about begging on Facebook for others to do the work you’re too lazy to do, but, quietly and thoughtfully and wisely, choose to share your ideas with a few people and let’s see who might be able to help you on your path–without drama, just the energy to bring your idea to life.
I have always liked the saying that dreams don’t work unless you do. And I add that you should believe in your dreams because they were given to you for a reason. Walt Disney is famous for having said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” And I’ll leave you with this wise saying, “Don’t let your dreams be dreams.” For your dreams to come true, it will take some stretching action on your part, so don’t get discouraged when all you want is within your reach – just reach a little farther.
Let me close with this thought about stretching yourself.
I’ll start with my quote for the day, “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.”
Stretching is never easy. The body likes to keep itself in the same warm, comfortable place, so when you force something–even gently–from its grounded location, you are adding a pressure that will unlock the unknown. Whether it is stretching to warm up muscles, stretching to improve flexibility or simply stretching to increase blood flow throughout the body, the idea of stretching and opening yourself up is quite scary for many and to others it seems unnecessary, but you and I have been taught that to be limber, more athletic and even successful we must stretch ourselves to do the thing we are not wired to do, because it is hard to start and even harder when we’re tired and discouraged but necessary for us to live our best life ever.
When you stretch your mind, your heart and your body you are in a better position for success simply because you’ve allowed a little opening into your crowded world; that opening can allow light and energy and nutrition to feed the mind, body and soul. Once they are fed and stretched and opened, there is no telling what opportunity will open up to you.
Remember the book by Dr. Robert Cooper, “The Other 90%”? He is a neuroscientist and, in his studies, he postulates that most of us use less than 10 percent of our brain. That means we underuse our brain by 90%. Just imagine what you could do if you’d stretch and develop your mind for your success as you work to develop your body for good health.
Sometimes, stretching out of our comfort zone is the only way we will achieve the desired results of all we’ve hoped for and dreamed about, but that will only happen when we care for ourselves and push open our dreams by stretching beyond what we think we can do. By stretching yourself and mending the broken places, there is no doubt you will be able to fix all that is within your reach.