Sunday, February 18, 2024

#49 / An Email Reply (Dream Big)

I recently got an email from an activist working on land use and water issues in the Central Valley. After I sent my reply off, I thought I might just put it here, so anyone who reads my blog can see my thoughts. 

So great to hear from you! And I am also glad that the Berkowitz piece, and its last paragraph, seems worthwhile. I do think it is! 
I must say that I was surprised to find you confessing to a battle against “sloth,” since that is definitely not my picture of you. But… whether the “sloth” designation has any real relevance to your life or not, I am happy that you made it to the bank in time, to solve that problem with your credit card before this upcoming three-day weekend!! 
My "confidence,” which you mentioned in your email to me, is at least partly based, I believe, on the very strong conviction I have that we are capable of doing what we tell ourselves we can do. Because I believe that - REALLY believe that - I am extremely reluctant to enumerate all the reasons that bad might prevail and all the good fail. 
In a very real way (as I learned from my father) failure is a self-selected choice. If you haven’t read my blog posting about that - about that world-changing revelation I had, as I accompanied my father into the crawl space below the floors in our house in Palo Alto - that story is where you will find the origin of my certainty that failure is something we ourselves produce. Click this link, and look for the section titled, “Possibility” Is My Category - Thanks To My Dad." 
If you believe, “theoretically,” that anything is possible with respect to all the arrangements we make in our human world (and, of course, I do believe that), then you undermine your own belief by rehearsing all the reasons that failure is a lot more likely than not. Yet, most of us do that all the time. Some of my blog postings about “doom,” including a recent one, try to address the issue. 
There is, probably, a very good reason that we tend to “give up” on possibility, since it is our lot to die (Memento Mori, as I keep telling myself), and dying does seem quite a bit like “failure,” doesn’t it? What do I say to that? Well, I just thought, as I was tapping out this message, that Bob Dylan has a song that is a kind of sermon on this subject. If you don’t know it, try this link. It may be important to take seriously his message, that “Death Is Not The End.” 
I do think that there is another reason, though, that I have “confidence” when I think about what prevails in our “political world.” I was extremely privileged to be personally involved in changes in our local community that fundamentally transformed what seemed inevitable into something quite the opposite: (1) We saved farmland for farming, and preserved open space for wildlife, and protected our natural world, managing new growth and guiding it into areas already committed to urban development; (2) We started a process of investing in successful community-based social service programs that has continued to this day; and (3) amazingly enough, our little county (the smallest county, by size, in the State of California) kicked off what turned into a successful nationwide effort to stop new offshore oil drilling. That effort resulted not only in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, but also put a moratorium on new offshore oil development everywhere around our nations’s coasts where offshore drilling operations were not already in place. 
I saw that happen. I even got to help. Our community did it! These things were, objectively, thought to be “impossible.” 
Can we do more, now? And we have to do more, of course - a lot more!
My answer is, "Yes." My father’s message still resonates within me, as it has throughout my life to date: “If you don’t have a dream, Gary, you can’t have a dream come true.”

Substitute your own name, where mine is shown above. Dream big!

Image Credit:
Kevin Painchaud, Lookout Santa Cruz

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