Remember being a kid? In the Midwest, in a relatively well-to-do town, it’s easy to be nostalgic. I always enjoyed school, although I remember it primarily as a social activity and can’t imagine how my teachers put up with my short attention span. Maybe they didn’t notice my inattention because I managed to amuse myself quietly?
Well, last week I was reminded of how different experiences of childhood can be. The reminder came in the form of a PBS show, this time Independent Lens. This episode (“The Revolutionary Optimists”) highlighted the work that one organization is doing in Kolkata, India. Click on the link in the text to explore the story in depth, because right now I’ll focus on one aspect of the story that spoke to me in terms of, you guessed it, Five Phase theory.
Amlan Ganguly and his organization empower children to bring about change in their own lives and communities. They work with a variety of projects including dance, puppeteering, vaccination programs and access to basic education. One project the children have been working on for years is access to clean water.
On this day, the longest of the year and therefore height of the Fire season, I am inspired and humbled by the work these children are doing and how they are blending Fire and Water energy to create tangible change.
The basic jist of the project is that the kids’ slum has water taps but no clean water, so everyone living there either walks to haul water from neighboring slums or buys it from water vendors. For years the city has said it will hook up the water taps, but nothing actually happens.
Then, a few years ago, some kids from Ganguly’s program took up the cause. They have pestered their city counsel representatives, prodded the adults around them who’ve given up, and even drawn up the first accurate maps of their slum in order to stoke the reluctant city into action. One of the children even had the opportunity to speak to the Indian parliament about the issue.
Water is the basic foundation of life. It struck me that working on this project surrounding actual water is building and nourishing these kids’ Water phase, too. They have shown the persistence, resourcefulness, and cleverness of Water itself. Like waves lapping on the shore or a river cutting through stone to reach the sea, these children show patience and clarity of purpose, trusting and believing in their own value and ability to get things done.
They infuse this Watery gravity with the character, charm, perspective and readiness for action of a healthy Fire phase. Not only are these kids reaching the Fire stage of their lives quite literally, but also when watching the show it is clear that they feel that fieriness: confident in their own power, they are also responsive to the needs of the moment and quick to read and respond to the needs of those around them.
After an inspiring hour of television (although there were, naturally, some sadder moments too), I thank this organization and all the others who remind me every day that I have a choice. Whatever the obstacles, I can be that river running to the sea. Things may not turn out exactly as I’d like, but if I maintain the intention of bettering the world around me and infuse that intention with responsive actions in the moment, there’s always a chance I’ll succeed.