Yesterday I saw Jane Goodall speak at Royal Roads. I am so thankful to have heard her story. What a master storyteller. I had the same feeling when I saw the Dalai Lama, of being in the presence of someone incredibly rare, and unique. As I was leaving the lecture, I had the chance to just stand next to her and I can tell you, there was a love emanating from her that really melted my heart.
I have been thinking a great deal about her message, which was ‘never give up‘. Jane just never gave up. She never told herself the story of ‘no’. She always told herself the story of possibility. In her 77-year-old body, looking like Gandalf with her white hair, white sweater, and translucent skin, I was struck by her grace and marveled at her strength.
Jane spoke of her great love for her mother, her mother’s support of all that Jane ever did, and she said that it was this love which had sustained all of her work for her entire life. Can you imagine? That one acceptance allowed her to live with such certainty in her own story and be entirely sure of her vision for her life’s purpose.
Walking back through the woods after the lecture, I stopped and looked up into the sky. I listened to the wind through the tops of the tall fir trees, the far off ocean, tumbling in as reliably as ever, felt the pinecones below my feet and wondered, what story am I telling myself? What story do I want to tell the world? What story will I live from this moment on?
Perhaps I have lived a little selfishly, telling only the stories I wanted to tell, editing the stories of people in my life to be what I wanted, listening only for the stories in life that served me, me, me. I have learned a great lesson, that has been a long time in the making, but came together for me while Jane spoke and that was: I was missing the best part of life, the human story, with all of its faults, and mistakes, and frailties and day-to-day vulnerabilities.
We all tell stories. But are we able to look at the whole story, the true story, or do we fictionalize it to suit our desired outcomes?
Jane’s inspiring words will stay with me the rest of my life. I am certain, because of what she gave me, in her gentle, insistent way was the responsibility in my own life to look at the world as it was, with all of its faults, and brokenness, and see the possibility of making it a better place. This is, in fact, our responsibility to all of life, to animals, to the environment, ourselves, our loved ones, our community.
And never give up trying; it is the story of yes.