This is what happens when shit gets unreal


What constitutes “making a difference”?  Every day, some group or another exhorts us to “make a difference”. Hell, both my kids have t shirts with Gandhi’s face one them and the phrase “Be The Change”, referencing the quote, attributed to him by his grandson Arun, “We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.”


So, what change do you wish to see?  And what drives that wish?  Yesterday, I spent time at my son’s school, with a group of kids who like working with the soil.  We weed, we plant, we plan and we dream.  We build, we eat, we bicker and we scheme.  We look at the pond, which fills each time it rains, and then leaks out into the soil slowly through cracks in the cement lining, and we think about how to better cache the water. 


We look at the space where the cattle from the field next door break through the fence, and we scheme to block it with a compost bin made of repurposed shipping pallets.  Then we make notes about how incredibly tough the wood used to make shipping pallets is, and we plan to buy a new drill bit.

 But, as we do these things, these kids talk.  They talk about gardening, yes… about their favorite foods to grow, and their least favorite.  But they also discuss the Star Wars series, and debate the merits of each installment.  They critique music.  (If they are any indication, Britney Spears has officially jumped the shark)  They tease about crushes, and occasionally, they throw dirt clods at one another.  But they don’t judge each other.  Not like you and I probably do, whether in public or in private.  They don’t care how much each other’s families are worth.  They are unconcerned about the labels each other wears.  While I know that a couple of them may very well get a reduced price lunch, I’m the only one in the garden who suspects it might be so, and it embarrasses me to have that knowledge, frankly.

These are people who recognize the value of others, to the exclusion of their socioeconomic place in the world, their possible political affiliation, their religion, or who they are related to.  They are generous in their attribution of credit.  It is rare to hear one say “That was MY idea!” and common to hear them award kudos to a peer.  They commonly arrange to work together, and acquiesce easily when someone else has a better idea.  Stunningly, when one of them either sandbags on the job, or takes an extra piece of banana bread, they all know.  And they laugh it off.  And they remember.  The next week, the one who ate the extra snack often brings some extra food for the group.  The one who didn’t really do much the week before redoubles his or her efforts, in order to keep things equitable.  And this works!  One nine year old, when I told the group I’d like everyone to take a turn bringing a nutritious small meal, quietly approached me and said she’d like to take one of the other kids’ turns, because she thought it’d be a nice gesture to her friend, who had helped her weed when the first girl didn’t feel so well.  Yep. Pretty damned awesome.

So, make a difference?  Yes.  They are totally making a difference in my life. Be the change?  I don’t think I want to be a change, I think I want to regress.  These kids are amazing.  And they haven’t even had to change yet.


3 responses to “Change?

  1. Alan Reed Bishop March 2, 2011 at 5:42 PM

    Fantastic Post Lav! In adulthood it’s very rare to find those exchanges, but with the economy the way it has become that is changing, slowly, evolving into something “better”, something “real”.

  2. Lorna Fay March 2, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    Nicely done! I am going to borrow this line, Elizabeth, “These are people who recognize the value of others, to the exclusion of their socioeconomic place in the world, their possible political affiliation, their religion, or who they are related to. ” Somebody we know might benefit from contemplating this little gem of wisdom.

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