I am a sixty-eight year-old woman in India. I believed in what Gandhiji said. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” But making it a reality has been my story of transformation.
I was a Caterpillar leading a life of comparative ease when I realised my son, who is brilliant, was diagnosed as bipolar. At the time, I did not even comprehend what it meant. In my country, mental health is understood to mean losing out, to be stigmatised, as our system has begun to follow a western medical system of progress–dependence on medications and drugs, not love or compassion.
I went along being educated in a western oriented form of education. I saw my child suffer. Through life, he lost his spirit and the world hardly gave him a chance. Basically, that jerked me to view life not as alienated from nature but that we can find our solutions with or without technologically within her. Nature teaches inclusivity and takes only what she needs; not out of greed like we homo-sapiens do. We dominate and manipulate. Nature participates in the web of life.
My son’s diagnosis and my mother’s love of gardens and my own of animals caused me to integrate to see the circle of life. A favourite movie which my children and I enjoyed was The Lion King–that too transformed my life. I lived in fancy gated communities and saw the dichotomy of human life and natural surroundings. Destruction of age old forests to build ugly non-ecological concrete structures.
That led to the Caterpillar becoming a cocoon. Then began my work with the marginalised and victimised communities locally and now globally. I am now a rights-oriented individual, fighting for the environment and those excluded from the web of life. Participation, as Paulo Friere advocated, is my key learning as I work with children about participation. Inclusivity ecology over economy; ‘ubuntu–I am because we are,’ is my mantra.
I now live in my house in the hills of Kerala, India. I practice yoga and meditation and intend to live what’s left of my life in nature. The woods are lovely, dark and deep. I have promises to keep to my Mother Earth and miles to go before I sleep…
Transformation now is self-actualisation, mindfulness, love of all life, compassion, and connection. As I meditate each morning with myriad sounds of bird song and silence of the universe permeating my inner being, I feel lifted.
I will naturally slowly leave this Earth a better place for my children and their children–this home in nature called ‘iva tattva–eternal soul’ and my mindful metamorphosis from Caterpillar to butterfly can give me ‘moksha–release from the cycle of rebirth impelled by the law of karma.’