There is no other land, no other life than this.." – Thoreau
I always frown a bit when I see one of those gaseous pundits on the news say that it is ridiculous to think that Donald Trump could ever change. "After all," said one recently, "he's 71, he is not capable of ever-changing." In another other context, this cold be seen as insensitive, or racist or bigoted comment.
I think the elderly are the last social sub-set in America that people feel free to diminish and slur so thoughtlessly. Why couldn't Donald Trump change if he wanted to? He isn't dead or paralyzed, he hasn't had a stroke or been injured.
I change almost every day of my life. I don't believe I will or should or have become a different person – that is a creepy idea to me. But I can certainly change.
In the past few years, almost everything in my life has changed. My wife changed, my farm changed, my idea of dogs changed, my writing changed, my love changed, my politics changed, my idea of friendship changed, my sense of self changed, my health care and ideas about health changed, my publisher changed, my notions of being a man changed, my blog changed, my photography changed, relationship with my daughter changed.
In fact, my very heart changed.
After last year's election, my life changed again. I didn't wish to spend any of my remaining years online fighting with people, raging about politics, eating my heart out, being swept into the whirlpool of rage and resentment.
So I decided to do good, simple as that.
I've learned some big lessons – to move steadily in the direction of my dreams, and live the life I have always imagined.
I focused on the refugees and the Mansion residents. I don't even know how much money I dispersed, they tell me the Mansion is a very different place since the Army of Good appeared on the horizon like a holy spirit to them.
They still can't figure out where all of this help and attention came from.
I learned from Connie Martell that help and compassion can transform a live at any age. If Connie changed at 82, and focused her life on helping people, then any 71-year-old man can change any way he wishes.
I learned that a blog or social media account can be a powerful force for good, not just for division and argument.
I learned to experiment with my photography and grow to another level, using old and abandoned lenses that forced me to learn about the true soul of photography, not just push a button to take a photo.
I learned to take a plunge and explore the world of Artificial Technology by buying an Iphone what I was told would frighten and stymie people like me, especially at my age. I've had no troubles, and am learning from it every day.
I learned to be patient and earn the trust of Ali and the refugee kids, and thus gain access to their complex and embattled world. You will hear a lot more about them from me.
I learned to not just hide behind a therapy dog and get to know and love people at the edge of life, and let them learn to love me.
I learned to open my soul to generosity and encouragement and celebrate, not hinder, the spectacular creative and personal growth of Maria, the source of so much love and light for me.
I learned to listen to Red and know that he is not ready to leave the world, he and I have so much good to do.
I learned that contrary to what we see on the news, people are good, given the chance to be good.
And that is is a miracle when people and I can do good together, when we find the trust and heart and better angels inside of ourselves.
And I've learned this from Henry David Thoreau:
"You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
I've learned that there is no other land, no other life but this.