On the Walk Out Walk On journey, at some point we often wrestle with questions of right livelihood. In my own life, I’ve noticed that it is not easy living the future now when I’m confronted with economic scarcity. So I feel blessed to have had the opportunity the past two years to do this work as a steward of the Walk Out Walk On community—a community that is deeply aligned with my values, beliefs and worldview.
“A ‘learning-exchange’ was taking place all the time as the boundaries of age, culture and socio-economic background simply vanished in the process of our mutual friendship.”
– Vipul Shaha
A little over a year ago, Vipul Shaha was living in the United States and had just completed a degree in educational psychology from Harvard. In the eyes of many, the world was his oyster—filled with opportunities to start changing things for better. Yet Vipul himself was not so sure about this. Despite his desire to be constantly learning about “‘cutting-edge’ theories and innovative models in education,” he had a sense that his learning edges were to be found elsewhere. So he decided to embark on a self-directed “Year On” adventure in his native country of India.
Not so many moons ago, in a land that bridges East and West, modern and ancient, 40 great souls travelled for days and nights from all corners of the globe—from Palestine and Canada, Brazil and Australia, India and the U.S., Nigeria, Mexico and many more—to gather in Anatolia (Turkey). This remarkable encounter was called Giftival: a meeting, festival, inquiry and commemoration of the practice of gift culture. If you will indulge me, dear readers, I’d like to spin a tale for you of a magical moment I lived during our days in Istanbul.
These last months have been strange—at least if I look through the conventional lens of busyness. Until recently, I measured success according to how productive I was, how much I could accomplish. But now I’m beginning to realize I’ve been addicted to busyness.
“Failure sometimes offers more creative, cooperative, and surprising ways of being in the world, even as it forces us to face the dark side of life…”
– Judith Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure
Last summer, I thought myself quite witty when I came up with the phrase “experimentation with a longing to fail.” I was at an international gathering exploring “oneness.” I noticed how quick we were to use words like ‘experimentation’ and ‘laboratory’, but when we were truly on the edge of pioneering something new, organizers would often default to the predetermined plan. Since then, I’ve wondered if this longing for failure could be a way of working more intentionally with emergence—rather than an unfortunate side effect of being courageous enough to try new things.
Shop of the Open Heart Oaxaca opened last Sunday afternoon on a bright pink bookshelf. Fifteen gifts were made: Kyrgyzstani coins and handmade dashboard alters, upcycled beer bottle glasses and tales from Carlos Fuentes,a graphic novel signed by the artist and a horse from Germany. Each gift came with a story, a giver and a receiver. The Shop of the Open Heart lasted just 90 minutes. In that short time I noticed something shift for many of us.