A Day in the Life of a Change-Making Animal

The alarm goes off. We open our eyes. We stare at the ceiling.

“Go back to sleep” our demons say.

We flip back the covers and touch our toes to the ground.

“Get back in bed” they say.

We make our way to bathroom, lean on the counter and stare in the mirror.

“You’re too tired for this today” they say.

We get dressed.

“No one’s paying attention. No one cares. No one shares your work” they say.

We walk, pedal, or ride to that sacred space where we create.

“You suck. You suck. You suck. And, you’re stupid” they say.

We arrive. We sit down. We take a deep breath.

“You’re a fool! You’re going to embarrass yourself!” they say.

We touch pen to pad. We strike the first key.

Up till now, we’ve allowed them to have their way. Not anymore.

We begin to resist.

We get to work at reactivating our AGENCY.

We critically reflect upon the human constructs we have internalized.

We question our past, reconsider our upbringing, and unlearn what needs to be unlearned.

We assess our lifestyle and measure the depth of our submersion in the dominant consumerist culture.

We leave our comfort zone to go toe-to-toe, chin-to-chin and chest-to-chest with our demons.

They knock us down.

We get back up.

They knock us down.

We get back up.

They knocked us down.

We get back up.

And, even though we’re trembling, we share our art, thoughts and feelings with the world…without permission.

Each and every day we work to live the kind of life we want to live. (ht Sen)

Yet, this unwinding of our humanity is too big of a job to be done in solitude or silence.

We need others. We need a community. We need a Tribe to activate our AGENCY.

We do it together for each other through dialogue.

We share our hopes. We share our fears. We expose our weaknesses.

And, as you can imagine, this takes a lot of trust.

So, we seek out SOLIDARITY with others, which requires a different kind of work.

We work to subsume our self-interest, listen with intention, and empathize.

We work to remain open to learning from others.

We work to populate each others’ lives with the complexity they deserve.

When we manage to accomplish this kind of work, we exist in the overlap between AGENCY and SOLIDARITY.

It is a place of “confident-humility” (ht J).

It is the place where sustainable social change begins.

Alas, it is hard to stay here.

AGENCY and SOLIDARITY are elusive.

We never have a permanent grip on either of them.

We let others take them away from us. But, mostly, we give them away.

Some days our insecurities are so sharp that we don’t want to know what we do not know. We don’t want to challenge our pre-conceived notions. We don’t want to assess our assumptions.  We want to categorize, sort and put people in their “proper” place.  We want to infuse those around us with simple narratives. We want to believe that we understand our world. We don’t.

We work to earn AGENCY and SOLIDARITY anew each and every day all day until the end of the day.

It is repetitive work. It is incremental work.

It is work that gives up calluses.

They grow layer by layer each day.

They harden. They hurt. But, they’re a testament to our endurance, patience and commitment to the work.

It is at the intersection of AGENCY, SOLIDARITY and CALLUSES that our inner-Change-Making-Animal resides!

We put away our pen. We close our laptop. We turn off the lights.

We set the alarm. We lay our head on the pillow. We stare at the ceiling.

“You’re full of @#$&!” our demons say.

We sigh. We close our eyes.

We’ll be back at work tomorrow.


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Thanks. – shawn

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