Flickr: Vincent van der Pas

The world is experiencing such rapid change, sometimes it’s hard to envision where we’re going.

When you look to the future, what future do you belong to?

My future is one of leadership, where I share my ideas, activism and art with an active community living equitably and in balance with the earth. I belong to a future where people are measured by what they produce, rather than what they consume. I belong to a future where work is our deepest expression of our desire to belong, a future where each person’s work can become an expression of her deepest passion and art.

That work can be designing a solar water heater, writing a project report or planting a forest garden. Each of us has her own passions, ‘hobbies’ and special skills. It can be cooking a delicious, healthy dinner for friends, training a junior colleague in a new skill, or volunteering to lead a team. I have a friend who homebrews and shares delicious amber ales, another who is happy to solve my tech problems, and another who knows all the best Asian restaurants in Dakar.

What are your skills? What do you love? I’ll bet that in the future you belong to, you’re putting your passions to good use.

We build our future each day, with each choice we make and each person we interact with. The future can be healthy and happy, built on the recognition and acceptance of our needs, or it can be one of isolation and bitterness, cut off from the people and things we care about. Either way, the choice is ours, each and every moment. Seeing that choice for what it is gives us the power to choose well.

It is up to us to envision the future, and to envision it well. Think about it: do you want to co-create a future that is positive, or negative? The world can be a scary place, but I choose to be deliberately positive when I think about the future and actively visualize how I will use my skills to the best advantage.

It can help to think about what future you belong to by asking some questions. When you visualize your future, what are you doing? Where are you? Who is with you? Are you happy? I hope that you have a future that includes your happiness.

Once we have a vision in our minds of the future we belong to, we can do our best to maintain it in our awareness as we move through each day—keeping it in our mind’s eye, in our consciousness. With each kind word and each generous action, with each time we take the opportunity to be of service to the people and communities around us, we make our vision of the future more possible.

It is up to us to find others who think and believe like we do, to embolden and to support our vision. One such group I deeply admire is the Transition Network. I respect their ability to look at big problems, and then smile at each other. I’d love to start a Transition initiative in Dakar, or even just a Transition Street, so if you’re in the neighborhood and keen, let me know!

I like to think of my friends and mentors as my emotional and spiritual back-up team. We owe it to ourselves to pick the people who surround us carefully. Sometimes, out of fear, we don’t talk about the things that most interest us, or hold back from sharing about the things we deeply love. Expressing who we are and cultivating people around us that make us feel good keeps us healthy and happy. I’ll bet the people you surround yourself with also have a vision of the future they will belong to. Yours and theirs might not be that different. I encourage you to find out.

I really do believe we can be healthy and happy when living and working in challenging, stressful places. After all, we have chosen our jobs and the lifestyles because they align with our deeper values. And our values are diverse, and can be as simple or profound as believing in the Declaration of Human Rights and wanting work that makes it a reality.  By sharing our stories with and listening and learning from each other, we become more resourced and supported. When we’re healthy and happy, it’s easier to build our visions, day by day.

When we look at global poverty, climate change and the multitude of challenges facing us, it can be hard not to react from a position of fear and scarcity. I’m committed to envisioning, together, a way for us to move through these challenges with vision and purpose; and I’m committed to working together to be of service where we are needed most.

So tell me again. What future do you belong to?

Tell me. I really want to know.

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