Posted by: MC | January 27, 2013

On Coming Full Circle

late January buds

On a walk through Laurelhurst Park, I run into … well, first the bouncy affectionate force field of a German Shepherd named Roman and then the woman at the other end of his substantial chain leash, my friend Raquel.

“Hi!” we both call out at the same time, finally able to identify one another across the giddy animation of 75 pounds of smiling, jumping, licking canine.  “Roman!”  Raquel’s voice is stern as she pulls the chain taut but takes gentle care not to yank it – not to hurt the dog.  A lot of our conversation over the next 15 minutes or so will be punctuated by the same exclamation, “Roman!”

It will also be punctuated by kindness — kindness between the two of us and kindness between Raquel and Roman.

Raquel makes her living caring for other people’s dogs.  Even though she’s about Roman’s size, she leaves no doubt who’s in charge and her love and understanding of dogs is something she’s known as long as she can remember.  Raquel is a small business owner in her mid-20’s who has felt the recession up close with clients dropping away and new customers difficult to find.

Long strands of dark hair frame her face beneath the gray hood she pulls up against the rain.  Her dark eyes, always loaded with expression, tell of her happiness these days.  We haven’t seen one another for a few months, so there’s some catching up to be done. “I’m rebalancing,” Raquel says, “with my business, with my confidence, with having fun.”

“It’s like I’ve come full circle,” she says.  “Nothing’s changed and everything has.  You know, time has passed and I’m starting to trust myself more.”  Raquel’s rain boots ooze through a mud puddle as Roman pulls her a little off the path.  “You’re a good dog, Roman,” she says when her redirection gets him easily back on track.

When I ask what her circle has been, Raquel talks about the things she has learned from her mother and her family, from relationships and circumstances that have come and gone.  She says the circle is being back to a place of “What Now?”  So she knows she has to get clear with herself on what she wants, “for myself and my dogs – for everyone really,” and on what she’s willing to do to move toward that.  Raquel describes how this time she knows she can draw on what she’s learned before but that she’s the one who has to take it from here.  “It’s about recovering balance,” she said again.  “Not about returning to some old balance point, but finding the next one.”

We are at the top of the hill.  I’m turning left and Raquel and Roman are headed back into the park.  It’s been one of those sweet accidents of being in the same place at the same time.  We leave one another smiling.

Full circle.

I find myself thinking of the circles I am completing, the circle our country has just made.  It’s been four years since I started my first drive around the lower 48.  Four years since the word change reverberated with emotions as diverse as unbridled hope and angry suspicion.  The hope was for the delivery of real relief from economic, social and environmental ills and most specifically for relief from being at war.  The anger and suspicion were from dashed hopes for similar relief – from the deep conviction that the new U.S. presidential administration was wrong for the job.  Both responses were and remain calls for rebalancing.

Life has happened in those four years.  Change has happened.  And the questions remain right in front of us – What do we value most?  What are we willing to do to nurture and sustain what we value?

We can start with trusting our capacity to rebalance.  This weekend the last chapter of the 100 Voices podcast series will go live, Chapter 10 – Completing the Circle and Coming Home.  Like all 100 voices, this week’s collection continues to offer evidence that we-the-people are not only capable of reinvention and rebalance, we actually know where we stand and we know more than we are led to believe about how to get our country back on track.  Learning from the past and trusting the vision and creativity we have as individuals and share as communities we can really do this thing.

Listen to Chapter 10And answer Raquel’s questions – What do you want for yourself, your family and community?  What are you willing to do to make it real?

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