Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Midlife-crisis anyone? or 2020 - Imagine1

This "mission" -- and in fact the evoke game in particular -- gives me a stomach-ache. Makes me want to shut this browser window and go back to chatting with my fellow 30 and 40-somethings on facebook, hang out with my kids, do the laundry, curl up with a good book -- anything to avoid facing these facts:

- i live an ordinary life and my range of influence on issues i care deeply about it very minimal.
- my life is overfull of inescapable long term commitments and responsibilities [i.e. raising 4 children] that -- while important -- are not the kind of thing that solve global problems.
- i once was someone who did work on these issues
- my 20's are long behind me and the paths i have chosen have taken me important places, and valuable places, but places far removed from other dreams I had.

I did not join the peace corp.
I did not pursue a master's degree in international development.
I did not get an MSW.
I did not even continue my activism in a citizen's lobby fighting hunger and poverty.
[I also didn't go to Hollywood and become an actress, but we are talking about a particular kind of dream I gave up... the one in which I dedicate my life to "Tikun Olam" or "the repair of the world."]

I did get married, and then birth 2 and adopt 2 children.
I did quit my job here to stay at home with our children. [and of course that required similar "sacrifice" of certain ideals on my husband -- who is strapped to a career and an income to support our life.]
I did spend a decade coming to grips with depression and learning to be the person I wanted to be.

I am not about to go back to work or take on any more volunteer responsibilities or join the peace corp or go back to school. not now and not for the foreseeable future.

So what will I do to live all my values on a more macro scale?

I mean beyond trying to be a better person and continuing my path of personal growth and being as good a parent as I can and "being the change I want to see" by picking up litter and letting the person in on the highway on ramp in front of me and giving what money we can to support the causes we believe in, and writing the occasional letter to my congressperson?

What talents do I have that I can use to make a difference on a larger scale? And within the context of the daily life responsibilities that I already have committed to: how can I offer those talents once I've identified them?

In 2020 I will be 52 years old. My children will be: 13, 16, 20 and 27. I will be just beginning to enter the next stage of my life -- one in which parenting will no longer be a day-to-day, moment-to-moment, hands on affair. And I will still have 5 more years before my youngest will be 18, even then.

I can't imagine spending the next 10 years doing anything other than how I've spent the last 10: trying to launch my children into the world as happy, successful, powerful, strong, sane, good people.

I repeat the question:

What talents do I have that I can use to make a difference on a larger scale? And within the context of the daily life responsibilities that I already have committed to: how can I offer those talents once I've identified them?

Perhaps playing this "game" will help me find some answers. Will help me find a way to contribute beyond my little tiny corner of the world, the microcosm in which I raise my children.

Views: 20

Comment by Mita Williams on March 4, 2010 at 8:30pm
All I can say is that I am a mother of two toddlers and your words have moved me deeply.

I want to believe that we live in a world where parenthood is compatible with actively working towards a better world. I understand that this possibility may not be open to all of us at all time but I sincerely believe that projects like Evoke make such work possible - due to its asynchronousness and because its online.

Already through Evoke, I'm learning about small but powerful projects that didn't require advanced degrees to move forward. Why, just now I learned of a project called Project Mango that was developed by and for pre-school teachers.

Please keep us posted on how you are doing, And call on us too. Because that's why there is an Evoke Network.

All the best, Mita
Comment by Mita Williams on March 4, 2010 at 8:30pm
Comment by Ken Eklund on March 5, 2010 at 8:05pm
Hi Ayala – if you have adopted and raised two children, then you have my permission to hold your head high and smile at the world. In my book, that is a jaw-dropping commitment and accomplishment.

Your youngest is 13. As you say, you are at the edge of change, because soon your children will all be on their own. I will offer my advice (for what it's worth): look at your youngest, and look at what you want to start doing when your youngest leaves home – is there something that connects the two? Is there an activity that you can start doing together? Your youngest may be thrilled to embark on that journey with you?

You sound very ready to start. If EVOKE can give you the final push, we will!
Comment by Calida DeBello on March 5, 2010 at 8:31pm
I just texted Alchemy about this. Will EVOKE recruit people who are in the 50s, 60s, 70s? Without Peace Corp etc experience? His answer – "yes of course."

And he awards you +100 COURAGE. Thank you for being so honest and open, we are sure you have spoken for many others.
Comment by Ayala Sherbow on March 5, 2010 at 9:14pm
so appreciate being heard and understood. and validated. thank you.
Comment by Linda Holt on March 8, 2010 at 6:56pm
I so related to what you have written - I am already 56 yrs old and taking care of my grandchildren is an honor and vocation. I see Evoke as a game in which every voice is an inquiry in what it would mean to make a difference in the world - and that it will ultimately provide a knowledge base.of insight and possibility that is germane to the changes we all want to see. Thank you for your courage and spark!
Comment by Jerry Rae Leyland on March 8, 2010 at 7:18pm
Mothers have the most important, difficult, time consuming, exhausting, inspiring, exciting and terrifying jobs in the world!

I take my hat off to you! Good mothers are a priceless commodity.
Comment by Michele Baron on March 8, 2010 at 9:10pm
Hi Ayala, Is that the shy but courageous Impala on your picture? Having adopted 2 and birthed 2 children, you have already made a place for yourself, where you would be sorely missed. Like ripples in a pond, waves in an ocean, each small drop of water has its catylitic effect, and spreads in untold currents of change and energy.
At age 3, your youngest is probably just getting to where "what if?" and pretend games are a favorite pass-time. "What if" you advocate for the voices of your children in this EVOKE game (I know I am considering the impact of world events on my young children (also won't be of driving or voting age by 2020)), and invite their visions and ideas, temper them with your own, and EVOKE with them, and us? Break out the crockery-cooker, tandoori, couscous pot, or other casserole dish, load it with grain, veggies and another protein, set it to cook, and take some time out to dream a better world! Besides, middle age is relative. Don't we have some 114-year-olds in the US, 120+ in Japan, 115+ in Eurasia somewhere? You may not be middle aged until 85 or so. (oh, no....). When will that be--2053? Each drop starts a ripple of influence, each day, each word is an opportunity to bring change for the better into your lives, and sharing with family, community, or EVOKE, as you have time, may contribute more than any of us can see from our vantage points today. Best to you!
Comment by Su on March 9, 2010 at 1:08am
Don't underestimate the ripple effect of what you do.
Comment by Hanna Brady on March 9, 2010 at 8:01pm
I do not think I can better express what others have already said here. I agree with all of it. You are incredibly brave, and the change you make is absolutely powerful. I'm looking at it from the younger end, and it's something I touched on in my blog:


I worry that I am being selfish by not choosing to devote my entire life to the betterment of the globe. I am worried I won't be able to follow personal passions without abandoning other things that matter. I'm trying to be optimistic about it, but it's rough even from this perspective.

I guess what I mean is - Don't worry. There are lots of people here that get it. We'll find ways to make it work. Thank you for this post. You are courageous.


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