I used to be paralyzed by these thoughts. I fumbled with class divides, marked as privileged by language and accent and access. I avoided relationships because I worried about the statistics showing discrimination against married women and mothers. I felt torn apart by guilt over being part of the brain drain, tempted to think of what-ifs.
I’m learning to pick my fights and focus on doing the best I can.
|So, yes to…||Even though it will probably be much harder to…|
|Pursuing my passion for code and writing, despite knowing that there are scary people out there||Deal with such people if they make me a target|
|Blogging about what I’m learning, sharing whatever I can||Contribute to open source code while at IBM (it’s doable, but there’s quite a bit paperwork ;) )|
|Both my husband and I keeping our names, and to always phrasing it as decisions we both make for ourselves||Go with non-patrilineal naming for children|
|Promoting equality through avoiding deemphasizing motherhood and emphasizing parenting, valuing homemakers and caregivers, and appreciating people who choose not to have children||Deal with gender-role assumptions, subtle professional discrimination against mothers, and ageism in technology careers|
|Managing my finances myself and resisting the pull towards consumerism||get everyone to live below their means and manage their accounts reasonably|
|Microlending and encouraging entrepreneurship||Get people to self-start, or solve systemic biases against the poor|
|Living as full a life as I can with W-||Deal with the occasional biases against and the certain challenges of a relationship with a large age gap|
|Making the most of where I am and helping other people get started||Move back to the Philippines and make a bigger difference there|
|Working reasonable hours at full capacity and investing in building a full life as well||Change the work-life expectations for executives or startups|
It isn’t about solving the world’s problems. It’s about facing the world lovingly, finding unknown depths of energy in yourself so that you can keep on going even if life challenges you.
Here’s something from people wiser than I am:
The bodhisattva vows to save all sentient beings, but that is not a
goal in the relative sense. The bodhisattva realizes that what she is
saying in that vow is completely impractical. You can’t really do it.
We see this from the mythical story of the great bodhisattva
Avalokiteshvara. He had a literal mind in the beginning. He took that
vow, “Until I save all six realms of existence, I will not attain
enlightenment.” He worked and he worked and he worked to fulfill his
vow. He helped beings, and he thought he’d saved hundreds of millions
of them. Then he turned around and saw that an even greater number
than he had saved were still suffering, and he had flickers of doubt
at that point.
At the beginning, when he took that vow, he had said, “If I have any
doubts about my path, may my head split into a thousand pieces.” This
vow came true at this time. His head began to fall apart. He was in
tremendous pain of confusion, not knowing what he was doing. Then,
according to the myth, Amitabha – a great buddha of compassion – came
to him and said, “Now you’re being foolish. That vow you took
shouldn’t be taken literally. What you took was a vow of limitless
compassion.” Avalokiteshvara realized that and understood it. Through
that recognition, he became a thousand times more powerful. That’s why
the iconographical image of Avalokiteshvara often has twelve heads and
a thousand arms. You see, once you take the meaning of saving all the
others literally, you lose the sacredness of it. If you’re able to see
that compassion applies to every situation, then compassion becomes
… The path is what there is to work with, and that work is there
eternally, because sentient beings are numberless, and we have to work
with them eternally.
Trungpa, Gimian, and Kohn’s Work, Sex, Money: Real Life on the Path of Mindfulness (p73-74)
Sometimes it feels like the world rolls backwards faster than we Sisyphi can push it up. That’s okay. We get better and better at making little differences. We get better at making bigger and bigger differences. There’s no game over. There’s no happily ever after. There’s just the constant work and growth of being human.
Sometimes I roll backwards faster than I can push myself up. I forget something. I ignore someone’s needs. I make mistakes. But if I can keep focusing on small things I can do to move forward instead of trying to keep score over the entirety of things, then it’s easy to find the energy to start again.
The world also rolls forward, unexpectedly, through no effort of our own. Keep an eye out for those moments. The world is full of things that aren’t right, but it’s also full of things that are.