Adapt or..? Adaptor!

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Change is a big buzz word. People fear it, people love it, people embrace it, people resist it. In fact, we all probably feel/have felt the above about change.

Today while walking, I was thinking about all my molecules, buzzing around within me. Skin cells dying and new ones growing with each step and breath I take. Essentially, on an anatomical level, we are constantly changing. People say “the only constant is change”. But what people don’t talk about as much is adaptation.

I won’t reach for the Oxford, let’s just think about this ourselves, rather than referring to someone else’s take on the matter.

Perhaps we can begin with the body. As cells die, so new ones grow. It isn’t a matter of CELL A IS DEAD! GENERATE B! It is more gradual, and far more natural. There is a process of cell death, and a process of cell generation. There is of course a point at which a cell is dead, but a lot happened before it got to that point. When it died, we would consider that “change”. But everything that lead up to that point is adaptation. So change is in fact the visible end-of-the-line effect, if you will. Adaptation is everything else.

People gun for change. “CHANGE YOUR LIFE!”, motivational speakers yell from soap boxes wearing expensive suits being paid far too much to inspire people into paralysis. I feel a different tune humming within me: Allow awareness about adaptation.

If we stop FIGHTING for change, DEMANDING it to be RIGHT NOW, wanting complete 180 degree turnaround, we may just get the change we seek. Even doing something in this very moment that may seem like 180 degrees from where one was going just one moment ago, is the outcome of an enormous amount of internal adaptation that it took to get to that point. Wanting and longing for change is one thing, but beginning to see the adaptations that lead to even that wanting and longing water those seeds to help them grow faster into visible change.

I think adaptation is the journey, and change is the/one of many destination/s. In a world of motivational posters and constantly-shared words by someone-or-other that have likely been said to varying degrees by millions of others all over the world, “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” is one of our time’s most popular, and yet societal obsession with change is in direct contradiction with this. Any major movement, even if it seemed to begin with a world-changing speech or a courageous (or unthinkable) action, has been brewing through largely unconscious (and perhaps also subconscious) adaptation.

This leads me to consider the option that when we get frustrated and feel like we desperately need change, when we feel despondent and are not sure how we can go on as things are, that there are adaptations happening that indicate growth. We are no longer able to accept being treated a certain way, we no longer take the same road, we take or reject the new job offer, we start/end the relationship, we buy/don’t buy the ticket. I wonder, if we were more aware of the smaller, subtler adaptations within us, would we be leading the charge for change as hard? Perhaps, because we may realise that we were ready for that change earlier. But the value remains, due to the fact that increased self-awareness can only be of benefit to one’s own health and thriving, and therefore also the world. This view helps any change to be seen as the ‘next step’ in adaptation in that area, and in that way, apparent revolution is in fact just the visible, obvious aspect of evolution.

So I challenge myself as well as all readers to inquire internally: What adaptations are we perhaps missing in our own lives? What areas can we see subtle shifts beginning? What might their message to us be? If we are aiming for the end point, could we perhaps be wearing blinkers and not seeing how our internal and external environment and scenery is adapting, like on a travel journey, towards the change that we know is coming (even if we don’t know what it’ll look like)? If we are desperate for change in a particular area, are we really sure that is where we are going, and can we track back to see how we have adapted/are adapting, to perhaps re-direct slightly or to acknowledge the growth? Are there any areas in which we can let go of the fight, and recognise that there really is adaptation happening, and that a cell cannot die before it is dead, and a new one won’t just regenerate before its time?

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Mirror Mirror

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Mirror mirror on the wall

You’re positioned too low, I’m much too tall

Mirror mirror in my hand

I can only see my nose, a mere fraction of who I am

Mirror mirror in my heart

How to know even where to start

Mirror mirror in my mind

Reveal all the things my eyes will never find

 

Inspired by one of the most extraordinary and exquisite human being Women I know, I made this mirror. It is a hand mirror. It was made with love, shards of coloured glass, backboard, rusted circular washers and grout. Created out of a desire, dream and vision for what mirrors can be. I have always felt that we, as people, are reflectors of and to each other, holding “mirrors” up to one another in order to see sides of ourselves we cannot see alone. If you have ever held a mirror and tried to see the back of your head, you will know what I mean; you need another mirror, or a different angle, or a few more arms and hands ie it is impossible. In relation, we get to see some of each of our many thousand faces, and to reflect that back to ourselves and each other.

Making this mirror, so steeped in meaning, I thought about the relationship many women have with mirrors. I cannot speak for the relationship men have with them, though I invite courageous men to share. Women, largely, want to look beautiful, however they have chosen to define the word beautiful. Looking for beauty in a mirror can be a profoundly healing or a rather wounding activity, depending on the perspective. This piece spoke to me clearly about how there is so much more to an individual than what we perceive to be reflecting back at us in any mirror. Here, the mirror shard is only one of many. Here, the mirror shard only could show part of a person. The coloured glass is expansive, beautiful and creates for me a sense of freedom and movement outward from the centre, alluding to growth beyond borders, to stretching, to liberation, to inspiration. If only women (and men) would look in the mirror and see everything that we could be, everything that cannot be seen in mirrors alone, everything we are that is intangible and makes us uniquely ourselves. The growing glowing golden light that belongs to us, and to us alone.

Alas, it is impossible. And for this reason and countless others, a mirror has its place but it is limited. Community and social relationships are essential, because glass mirrors can never reflect back what human mirrors can. All those magnificent angles, hidden curves and coves, glowing golden lights, throbbing colours, bursting sunrises, warm summer evenings, broken edges, brave vulnerabilities and secret chinks in our armour. Whose to say the branches reflected in that mirror aren’t me, aren’t you, aren’t us connected like dendrites through these words? Could mirrors not be about connection more than reflection, about relation with what is seen versus exploration and curiosity about what is not? What if mirrors were about what we couldn’t see? What do we actually see in our mirrors, versus what we think we should see, or think we should want to see? What could we do with all that extra time one may waste thinking about what we think we should look like in the mirror and focus it on being who we want to be in the world? What kind of mirror are we to others, do we pick up on their light and true colours, or do we reflect other parts? Can we not be more playful with our mirrors, allowing them to just swing from fascinating to functional, from useful to entirely useless in an instant? Are we brave enough to see beyond the mirror, and to be seen beyond the mirror?

The Flow of Gravity

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Yesterday, I drove more than 10km with no petrol. How? Glorious gravity.

Having driven up my favourite pass to our mountain house in a rush to make it to a community meeting in time, I wasn’t able to fill up with petrol. Ascending the pass knowing my “EMPTY” light had been flashing for a formidable number of kilometres already, I had the trust that I would make it back down to the nearest petrol station in fine shape. I was correct.

Success in a situation is not determined foremost by the resources available, but by the resourcefulness. Although, physics first principles and the forces (power as well as magic) of nature are perhaps the ultimate in resources, as they are omnipresent and unavoidable. In this case, all I had to do was start my car as soon as I got to the road, and I was off.

I took both feet off the pedals – there was no need to try to speed up or slow down, as I decided I would literally be at the whim of gravity, the curve and gradient of the road and the sheer weight of my vehicle; things we often take for granted but in this case, they were all I needed. Trust: It’s quite a thing. Trust in the forces of nature, trust in the flow of life, trust in ourselves and the resources we do have at our disposal, both internal and external. The realisations started flooding in:

  1. The freedom that comes from not dictating the pace, and not constantly speeding up or trying to get somewhere quickly. Life has its own gradients; times when we feel we are going uphill, times when we feel we are going downhill and other times where we feel we are intert, slowly coasting along a plateau, until the next incline/decline. We just need to go with it. I didn’t have a choice – what medicine.
  2. All I had to do was steer. If we aren’t dictating the pace, our feet are able to be still rather than moving, and we can just focus on direction. There are so many expectations that we superimpose upon ourselves in terms of when we should do things and how quickly. If we are focussed on where we are going, the timing and speed are subordinate functions of that direction, rather than dictators, as we often allow or force them to be.
  3. There is such a desire amongst so many of us to be in control constantly. What if this wasn’t the aim? What if we realised that we aren’t isolated, that we are part of various ecosystems and we absolutely must acknowledge our environment in the way that we live our lives? What if it wasn’t control that got us somewhere, but direction and choice, influenced partially by inner and partly by outer circumstances?
  4. We may just have everything we need, even when our tanks (or “tanks”) are (or feel) empty.
  5. It really is all about perception. It could have been a frightening stress to be without petrol, but I felt myself overcome with the spirit of adventure, shaped in part due to the fact that I knew I would be fine and there really was no danger, and there was little risk and in part because I was inspired and curious about how framing a situation absolutely determines what we get out of it.
  6. Gravity is like flow. I felt like I was moving down a river in a vessel rather than driving a car. I guess this will be due to the fact that in a boat, one must move with the currents or work 10 times as hard (perhaps in vain) to move against them, so sailing is built on the understanding that you must work WITH and leverage the natural and majestic forces of water. Whereas in a car, we control the variables to dictate how fast we go, how quickly we slow, and where we go. I loved how fluid it felt, and the excitement that came from not dictating the pace; on flatter stretches between steeper gradients, I cruised along and let others pass me if they were in a rush. There was such freedom in knowing that unless the decline was steeper or longer, I wouldn’t speed up. I didn’t need to overtake anyone, there was no traffic buildup, no apology, just freedom and joy. I moved between the speeds of 20km an hour and 110km an hour (which is a pretty hairy speed on very windy roads), without using the pedal at all. What a pleasure!
  7. It was a bit nervy when I was going downhill as I decided I didn’t want to break, but rather to allow the road to dictate my pace the entire way down. There are some steep sections, and it is very windy; I learned to drive on this road and I do know it inside out, it’s like walking a stretched-out labyrinth up to the mountains that have shaped who I am as a woman. I didn’t know how much faster it would get, and all I chose to do was steer. My foot was itching to get involved and of course, if there was danger posed to me or another I would not hesitate to break, but I wanted to feel it anyway.
  8. It is interesting to note how steering has a different flavour when we are going slowly versus when we are going quickly. When going fast, it is focussed and intense, with little margin of error and all eyes are on the road. When going slowly, there is time to drink in the scenery, to look around, to trust the cambre and curve of the road and our innate understanding of curves, to enjoy almost luxuriously all the incoming sensory stimulation and the process allows more engagement with the environment. There are valuable lessons to be learned from both. I found that when I was going more slowly, you have more time to make movements and direction changes so you can take time, but when going quickly, you are relying on focus and clarity to make the right calls that avoid unnecessary risk and keep you safe.
  9. I learned the power of weight and inertia, and how life cannot go on if it is just flat. We are either going up or down or en route to going up or down, speeding up or slowing down – the river is never completely still. When we feel stagnant in life, it is because we need to remember the river, and to join it once again. Waterfalls, oceans, waves, winding rivers and trickling streams all come to mind as teachers in times that may feel like this.
  10. I thought about the various forces in my life, the natural and the unnatural ones, and my relationship with them. It is a fascinating thought. Speed, timing and direction – who knew fairly standard concepts could be so magical and full of deep wisdom! Are we listening to the flow we find ourselves in and going with it or are we resisting? Where are we speeding up or slowing down, and where can we flip these ideas on their heads?

So as I coasted into the petrol station, while I was delighted to get there, I felt an inner sigh about this glorious experience coming to an end. It was such fun to let go and know that there was nothing I could do but steer. The thought with the biggest impact on me was the sense of just being a part of such a powerful and calm flow, and I just felt so happy. It challenged and inspired me on a practical philosophy level, to check myself and my ideas about movement, the various forces in my life and my relationship with them, where I had been resisting relinquishing control, where I could just take my foot off the fuel pedal and slow down, where I could take my foot off the break to speed up, and how indescribably nourishing it feels to let go and be a part of a greater flow that will take you, in whichever state you are, exactly where you’re meant to go.

Nature vs Human Nature?

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The way animals self-organise in nature is astounding. Hundreds of birds or bees can fly and swarm together, but none hit the other, and their efficiency is only enhanced in their unity.

Humans, on the other hand, en masse, tend to fall into mob mentality or crowd think, acting somewhat like zombies or sheep, and many people try to avoid crowds at all costs, with cognizance of their inherent volatility.

What if humans enhanced their efficiency and effectiveness in groups? What is stopping us? There may be a number of the same animal who do the same thing (function), but no one gets upset about it or causes a fuss, they get on and do their thing. They seem to somehow inherently understand the ultimate goal and that their ability to survive and thrive is intrinsically linked to that of their kin.

What have we as humans forgotten, or perhaps not yet have remembered? We are the youngest species on earth: If you took the history of the earth and proportioned it into calendar months, humans would come on the scene in the last few seconds of the 31st of December. Moral of the story? We have much to learn about surviving and thriving gracefully on this planet – nature has been doing so for 3.8billion years, and we humans for a mere 200 000 years.

Another difference between us and Nature is that animals and plants seek the nutrients they need, rather than excess. They also can identify and certainly avoid toxic substances and foods. How have we got to a stage where humans are so lost regarding food, in both quality and quantity? We eat far more than we need to survive, and of the wrong kind of food. Highly addictive, highly processed foods that can be rather destructive as well as negatively impacting our health.We do not need nearly as much food as we think we do to survive. In fact, to thrive, we need better quality but less quantity of food.

Where have we gone awry?

Nature uses readily available resources and energy, and many humans treat food as if it is an unlimited resource, which it is not. The natural world values abundance, whereas humans see scarcity as valuable – it drives behaviour, economics and certainly wars.

We must all find our own responses to these questions – the important thing is that we start asking them, and asking ourselves what patterns we are perpetuating that we can change in order to live more elegantly here on planet Earth.

 

Existence, Meet Experience

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I find it fascinating

How something could have been created 50 years ago

But we experience it today, so it’s life begins for us today

So as, if it was created today, it’s life begins for us today.

It’s existence is different to our experience of it.

So what does that make life? Is is about when things are made, or is it about when we experience them? Is it about existence at all, or rather about experience?

Existence gets a lot of airtime – a whole school of Philosophical thought, namely Existentialism, is one of many obvious signs that existence is in question in the Minds of Many. Existence is TANGIBLE, it’s real, it’s binary, something either exists or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t (whether it’s a person, a concept, or a “truth”), then that throws the believer that it doesn’t into the throngs of a “crisis”, if they once thought it did, or think that it should. What does it matter, if a thing, a concept, or a “truth” exists or not..? I am not implying that it doesn’t matter, I am just questioning the matter of matter itself. Is it a matter of fact, or the fact of the matter, and how/why does it matter or not, and any other question that may arise in support of or resistance to any of these ideas or any others?

But what about experience? Where does that come in? Does it not have far more value?

Experience, once acquired, is intangible. Its application may reap tangible results, but it is far more subtle and entirely invisible/hidden until then. Experientialism is apparently the theoretical Philosophy that says that knowledge is learned through experience. This may be the case in many cases, but that is incredibly limiting. And how can one have a theory about experience, is that not counter-intuitive? That, in the very least, needs to be questioned and explored with curiosity, not with intent to prove wrong but with the intent to grow and learn and see something new in an ancient way or something ancient in a new way, perhaps to just remember something that has always been true but just not yet to us, and is thus in its infancy in relation to us, or we to it.

Strange, how we look things up to learn about them. What if we, in wanting to learn about everything, found a way to experience it in some way or another, not in virtual/written form, unless it was about something virtual or in writing. Many things do fall into this category, and I get that, but it is worth inquiring loosely. Soil is healthy when there are enough spaces between the particles for air, water and life forms to move freely through them – if there is not sufficient aeration and space in the Soil, it is considered to be compacted and life doesn’t flourish fractionally as well under those conditions. I believe our minds are the same. And how do we make space for air, water and life itself? With questions and light, curious and open inquiry into most things that cross our path, even if and especially if they are familiar to us. Our brains will form patterns and make habits out of whatever we give them regularly, even not regularly in fact – so mixing things up and questioning things we would usually never question or things that seem obvious or asking old questions in new ways keeps our minds alive.

Experience seems to mean more these days than it has before, in certain areas of society and in certain schools of thought as well as in many individuals. Perhaps we have been moving for a while now, towards more Experiential living than mere Existence. Life has always been experienced, but I am not sure people are consistently aware of what they are experiencing, or taking note of how they respond, or how they would like to, or why they do, or how they could next time. Perhaps in only heightened experiences where there is much pain – why not in everyday situations? Sure it takes more brain power, but we use such a small percentage of our brain capacities anyway, isn’t it time for a Neurological challenge..?

How much of our lives are about Existence/Existing? Just because we do exist, that doesn’t determine very much, except exactly that. For example, having a degree, that Exists, you either have it or you don’t. But Experience… That is an entirely new world. Each person will have a different mix of life Experiences, even though each person Exists. There is much more life and diversity in Experience, infinite combinations and permutations in fact.

So why do we spend so much time worrying about what is or isn’t? Why don’t we spend more time thinking about our Experience of Existence. Perhaps therein lies a worthy station-stopoff on this train of though. Perhaps thinking about Existence is one level of living, and focusing on Experience covers and uncovers many more layers. Perhaps not. Perhaps only for some. A job does or doesn’t Exist – fine. But how is it Experienced, either the presence or absence of it? What can be learned? A friend does or doesn’t Exist – fine. But how is that Experienced, do we learn something about the world, about people, about friendship, about that particular person, and about ourselves?

So Existence and Experience make eye contact across a bar – who buys who a drink, and what happens next..?

The Cost of Convenience

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It is incredible how much we pay for convenience. Especially when there are hidden costs that so few are actually aware of.

I have been thinking about convenience a lot recently. The first time I had a flash of musing about it was when we planted Peas in our garden and upon eating the first, precious and delicious Pea, I realised how much time, effort, nutrients, water and patience went into producing this one Pea. The thought that followed was how earlier that week, I had seen a 2-for-one special on punnets of Mounge Tout (ie young, flat Peas picked early before the actual Peas form in their pods).

I was suddenly struck with indignation and bright realisation, as if the sun rose straight to midday heat inside my head after a long night:

How and why on Earth have we reached a place where we pay so much for convenience? It took so many weeks for that one Pea pod to grow, and yet we are delighted in the shops when we buy 2-for-1? That is just stock the shop wants to get rid of, either because they got it cheaply or because they want to get rid of it. Either way, it isn’t consciously chosen by us. Nor does it honour how much time it actually takes to make things, nor the process involved in the life of growth and the growth of life.

The next tier of thought took me to a new station entirely. I pondered:

Why do we pay someone MORE to provide us with products as well as for taking from us the chance to make/grow things ourselves?

This is absolutely ludicrous. Possible responses one may have:

  • I don’t have time. BS. We don’t MAKE time. Everyone makes time to mine the internet for invisible nuggets.
  • I don’t know how. …because we haven’t tried yet. When you start making things, one realises one’s infinite capacity to create.
  • I don’t want to. Really? Have you ever tried?
  • I can’t. Really? Says who? Have you ever tried? If you think someone is better than you at it, sure you are right. Someone is also worse than you at it. And at a similar level. But no one can make something just the way you can. Isn’t that leagues more meaningful than something so petty, binary and actually illogical as “better” or “worse”?

I am a big fan of rituals and symbolic action, and feel that there is such value of integrating it more into our lives. The art and heart of craftmanship is an important part of this. Waking up to the truth that we, as humans, can do and create anything we set our minds, bodies and hearts to is an extraordinary capacity that sets us apart as a species, in a way that calls us into a place of stewardship and responsibility. If we buy everything from the shop and then throw it away when it gets a bit tatty in favour of something new or bigger or better, we just build a high tower on which we try to precariously live rather than actually experiencing the heart of life where growth begins – in and on the ground.

There is nothing better than homegrown food, and nothing better than handmade belongings. If we truly honoured the process, time, resources and effort it took to make things, I feel like we would have less things. Especially if we had to make them ourselves. It’s also a lot more fun!

Here are 2 videos that inspired me greatly and raised some questions in me.

  1. The Birth Of A Tool: As a woman wholeheartedly passionate about tools and craftmanship, after making my own knife with a dear friend, this video brought silent tears to my eyes.

I love the clarity of the actions, the methodical, deliberate, highly skillful and elegant visual representation of this laborious, lengthy process; so many hours summarised into a few mere minutes. The heart of craftsmanship.

2. Man Makes Every Part Of A Sandwhich From Scratch: The concept of this blew me away before I had even watched the video. It took him SIX MONTHS and $1500 to create a sandwhich that it takes us a few seconds to knock up in the kitchen. In the shops, with a sandwhich as well as other products, the most we do is to read the label. This is a very reactive way of accumulating. I think there is great value in returning to a place where we realise what we want/need, dream how it could be and then make it ourselves. This perhaps extends metaphysically far beyond sandwhiches, as it was likely never about sandwhiches anyway.

It is about creation, empowerment, regenerative living and building a circular economy where things are made with their next life in mind ie made to last, knowing that when their one functional life comes to an end, their parts can be used elsewhere or made into something else.

So while we may convince ourselves that convenience saves us time, there is great value in wondering what convenience costs us? What do we actually do with that extra time we “save” as a result – do we invest it nourishing ourselves and lives or do we squander it? Did we even consider if we could dream something up and create it ourselves? We may think we want something, but perhaps we are actually just yearning to create, in which case buying the something will not satisfy at all, and we may keep accumulating trying to fill that void when in fact making one thing with items lying around the house with no need to spend a cent may be exactly what we need?

So before we buy something next, perhaps there would be value in asking ourselves a question that may raise many others, and it isn’t about the answer but more about the exploration:

Do I want/need this, can I create it myself, how could I do it innovatively and uniquely without buying into a throw-away culture of convenience, how could I build up those skills within myself?

Here’s to a handpicked, handmade, heartfelt life.

War – What it is Good For?

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It’s very telling, how the first thing that comes to mind when we think of “defense” is attack. But the defense of the world can only be achieved through cooperation. War may have been programmed into us, but there are more altruistic inclinations that are hardwired into our genes, which run deeper. And it only takes a tiny bit of scratching, if any at all, for a truth-seeking person to realise this.

Yeah sure, survival of the fittest, but if the fittest are only surviving, hell, that doesn’t cut it – I want to thrive. It isn’t mutually exclusive – me vs you, a fight to the death – it’s inclusive and our futures are intrinsically linked. It’s the fight that kills us, not the lack of “fitness”. The world has got so obsessed with competition and separation, with binary, dualistic approaches. These things are destructive if they blind us to when cooperation is required. If we look at things from all perspectives, both scientifically and metaphysically, cooperation can be a more efficient and effective use of resources, which is more evolutionarily beneficial. It’s time for a new breed of warriors, prepared to do the work and to find new weapons that extinguish old toxic habits while leaving the people in tact to build new healthy ones. It’s about health, growth and progress – perhaps we should be called Growers or Progressors rather than Warriors. I am not suggesting that there will be no fighting, nor that anyone should be timid, but the focus needs to be removed from the fighting and placed firmly onto holistic progress. Sure it takes time, sure it isn’t easy, but no one said it would be – easy isn’t always best for growth. There is no better time to be alive than now, and I can feel change growing everywhere, some just small shoots and some like ripe fruit on a tree. It’s time to remember, time for changing patterns.

So where do we begin?

War is justified by highlighting difference – in opinion, position etc. Cooperation is based on common ground, shared purpose/goals and similarities. It is not to say that we need to agree with what everyone says, nor that we are all the same, nor that we should be weak or lily-livered, quite the contrary. We need to step up, straighten and use our back bones rather than our wishbones. We need to be courageous and creative in the way we approach (rather than tackle) the challenges of today. These days, finding a symbiotic way to cooperate and honour healthy boundaries while remaining open and receptive can be more challenging than declaring war on the world, a country, a person, an opinion, or on ourselves.

That is where we begin: With ourselves. What are we warring with ourselves about? Do we go to sleep at night metaphysically black and blue with self-inflicted wounds and judgements, feeling like we have spent the day fighting? What weapons do we use on ourselves, what defensive mechanisms or weapons do we use with others, and are those weapons/defensive mechanisms actually defending and protecting us or in fact just hurting us? How else can we look at the “fight”, what are we missing? What is the progress at the end of the tunnel, and do we really need to fight to reach it?

What we need to remember is that whatever is in front of us is our teacher, and thus whatever is in front of us is also a student. In order for this to work, we need to be reverent. Courageously, fiercely, unapologetically reverent for what stands before us, whether it be a person, a plant, an animal or a reflection in the mirror.