Life Lessons from Dr. King

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I can’t remember the first time I heard of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Rather, he’s been intertwined into my consciousness, serving as a force of personal inspiration for decades. I remember going with my mom and siblings to celebrate his memory at the Santa Fe Roundhouse. I remember driving by the Lorraine Motel in Memphis to see where he was shot. I remember sewing his image into a tapestry I created for a high school senior project. I remember attending Kingian non-violence meetings in Hartford. I remember reading his speeches, his letters, his words and soaking up the layers of wisdom. Even now, I look at his words and notice how they apply not only to our work in the world but to our own lives.

We cannot walk alone.

Each one of us is stitched into the fabric of the universe, our lives interweaving with those of others. We are connected in ways we can’t even fathom at times. Just think of the clothes you’re wearing, the food you’re eating, the roads you’re walking upon. Each of those things was created by another and in that alone your life is connected to the life of another.

Know that you are never alone. Know that you have support systems all around lifting you up and loving you. Sometimes (at least for me) it can feel like you have to do everything on your own, but that simply isn’t true and if you go that route, you won’t get far. When we acknowledge that we have a community, we can go so much further… we can create so much more.

Who do you have walking beside you?

Only in the darkness can you see the stars.

It is often in the most difficult moments of life that the epiphanies come. It is sometimes during the most challenging times that the small moments of beauty seem that much more wondrous. Look around you, there is beauty everywhere- in the freckles and veins of a leaf, in the pattern of a snowflake, in the smiling eyes of your love, in the constellations drawing themselves upon the sky.

What beauty do you notice in your life right now?

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk than crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

Some days we soar and everything seems to be running perfectly. Other days it can be a struggle to change out of your pajamas and scoot out of bed. That’s okay. Do what you can where you are with how you’re feeling. Be gentle with yourself and set the intention for what movement forward you will take. It could be as simple as journaling or taking the day to rest and rejuvenate. It could be as grandiose as running a marathon or organizing a letter writing campaign. What matters is the intention behind what you’re doing and to take the next step that feels perfect for you.

What’s your intention for the day?

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

Disappointment is fleeting loves. It happens. You can grow from it. You can learn from it. Hope, however, can keep you going day after day. There are infinite possibilities out there and more than a million ways things can go right. Focus on the hope because it will get you a lot farther than the fear of being disappointed.

I had a recent realization (like super recent, like 2017 recent) that a disappointment I faced back in 2012 has kept its grasp on me and I’ve been living in disappointment instead of the infinite abundance of hope. I never used to do that. Moving across country to Oakland, sending out hundreds of job applications, draining my bank account, and living in a converted illegal garage apartment only to move home 6 months later has haunted me and it’s time to release it. It’s time to return to hope.

What disappointment are you holding on to that you’re ready to release?

What is your hope? For yourself? For the world?

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Where do you stand in moments of adversity? When life becomes challenging, how do you react? Do you keep hoping? Do you keep standing up and trying something new? Do you take loving care of yourself? When life is flowing smoothly it’s easy to go with the flow and simply be, but when life becomes challenging, it’s then that we often learn who we really are. We begin to recognize what most impacts us and how we respond. These are moments that can allow us to grow whether that’s through intentional action or quiet cultivation.

On the world level too, moments of challenge and controversy can show us where we stand as a collective. Right now, we’re facing a time where we are truly seeing the divisiveness of our country and our world. Now is a time for us to take a stand for what we believe in. How will you act? What changes will you make? How can you take steps towards creating the community you desire?

Where do you stand in your personal life and in your community in times of ease? Where do you stand in your personal life and in your community in times of challenge? What do you stand for?

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day my loves!

I hope you all go out and celebrate or take some time to reflect on the wisdom of Dr. King personally and/or in the comments below.

 

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