Autumn Reflections – October 9, 2019

Carol A. Hand

When I arrived here

in the world of humans

all the rules had been written

and all the roles had been assigned

save one – the role of outsider

reserved for others like me

who couldn’t conform

to cultures and religions

claiming to be the only

True Way


The curse of being born between cultures is to always enter each new setting to discover the enduring discomfort of being an outsider. Finally, I have learned to be grateful for the freedom that role confers, even though my spirit longs to connect with people as easily as it does with dragonflies, birds, trees, and bumblebees bending flowers as they feed.

I feel the imminent danger we all face, yet I remember a saying from Lao Tzu that seems to be true to me – “the way to do is to be.”

I have no answers for others, but decades ago I was blessed by the example of Sister Lorita, my college adviser and botany professor. She humbly endured being mocked by many of her privileged students. One day, she shared her secret with me.

“It doesn’t matter what people think of me if they learn to see the wonder of life in a blade of grass.”

Every morning and most evenings, I sit outside on my little porch looking toward the western sky. I observe and listen to the nature around me – both “natural” and human. Some of what I see and hear touches my heart with wonder, while other sights and sounds weigh heavy on my spirit. Both inspire me to honestly reflect on the things I do that add to the threats for all life. And I try to do better. But it’s hard to do it alone.


Sunset – October 9, 2017


Still, I try to do better. I plant and tend gardens, spend time with my daughter and grandchildren when their busy schedules allow, and teach part time. I try to raise the awareness of my grandchildren and the students I work with in gentle ways, creating a space for them to learn to be present and inquisitive, to question what they have learned in the past, and to think critically about what they encounter in the present.

It’s impossible for me to know if anything I say or do will make a positive difference in their lives, but teaching by example has made a difference in mine. It’s helped me learn to live with fewer and fewer immutable answers and many more questions which I may never be able to answer with certainty.


40 thoughts on “Autumn Reflections – October 9, 2019

  1. Carol, I know that you are making a positive difference in the lives you touch. You have made a difference in mine ❤

    As an outsider myself, I have found my way by embracing the great diversity of humanity. I rejoice when others welcome me into their hearts. I suffer the blows from those who reject me, get up again, and move forward.

    I also "feel the imminent danger we all face." The teachings of Lao Tzu buoy me up. The saying you quote, "the way to do is to be," reminds me to let go of my anxieties and just be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, dear Rosaliene, I apologize for taking so long to reply to such an important comment. I am so grateful we met. I have learned so much from you and value your friendship deeply. I see you as a sister in spirit and am continually inspired by all that you do. Sending hugs, love, and blessings. 💜


  2. Autumn leaves me (pun intended) in a reflective mood too — which leads to the thought that this Albert Camus quote is germane here:

    “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Such lovely reflections, Mister Muse. Thank you so much for sharing your humor and insights, and for your patience awaiting my very belated reply. Sending my best wishes to you.


  3. Carol…this post reflects. resonates, and reminds me of so much. You make a difference with your being…I’m certain of it. The truth and deep feeling in your words, stories and commitments are apparent and feel important and authentic to me. You are therefore an example for all who notice, learn from you or heed your gentle calls for the same. ‘Tis the season for reflection as we prepare for the Winter of rest. Our being is critical to the healing that our world needs. Be well, dear Carol. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

      1. 💜 I appreciate and learn from you as well. I consider it a privilege to share this virtual space with you and other deeply thoughtful and considerate souls on what can be an extremely challenging journey at time.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Carol,
    Knowing you only virtually yet, I continually see a source of positive kind reinforcement, a fount of encouragement in a, at times, cynical world. Your honest reflections about two cultures, being an outsider, I can relate. IMHO being an outsider is being willing to grow, love yourself so you can love others and not just accept the status quo.

    Gibran wrote: “Love has no other desire than to fulfill itself” …. To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
    To know the pain of too much tenderness.
    To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
    And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
    To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;”

    “Pain of too much tenderness” How powerful is that!!? Peace to you my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The feeling is mutual my friend. I am often inspired by your writings. “Aspire” also applies with respect to to your discipline and style. I am thankful for this sanctuary of sorts,, away from a noisy world. ✌️

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Quote: “It’s impossible for me to know if anything I say or do will make a positive difference in their lives, but teaching by example has made a difference in mine. It’s helped me learn to live with fewer and fewer immutable answers and many more questions which I may never be able to answer with certainty.”
    Such wisdom, so well stated. If an answer doesn’t lead to more questions, it was the wrong answer.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I believe you are making a big difference with your even bigger presence, Carol. You ask questions others can’t even articulate. You are moving society forward simply with your presence, and, of course, your wisdom. The world is better with you in it. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Pam, thank you so much for your always kind and encouraging comments. Please know that despite my belated replies today, your kindness touched me deeply and helped me keep trying even when I was too busy to thank you at the time. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

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