Passion, Peace & the dance in between.

(Speech done at the 2016 GCC of the Melton Foundation in Chile)

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I am May Garces member of the Melton Foundation since 2005 and I am here not to show a specific project, but a little reflection about the projects I’ve done with the support of the MF.
I only have 10 minutes so let’s see if I can do this.

I have been awarded more than 10 scholarships in recent years to implement ideas that align with the values of the Foundation: mutual respect, global citizenship and intellectual curiosity and their areas of focus that are sustainability, equality and diversity.
My projects and the projects that I have participated in, are mostly related to education, the arts, community development and decision making. Moreover, I have to say that these scholarships have allowed me to explore some personal hypothesis that I have about life and to channel my thoughts and feelings productively.
So I am deeply grateful
The Melton Foundation has truly been a psychedelic experience for me. By psychedelic I mean “mind revealing” (for its etymological root). I have been able to make visible the thoughts inside my head. I have turned inside out and I can understand more clearly.

From a scholarship that took me to Greece to explore History with friends from India, China and Chile; to learning different approaches to music theory and the physics of sound in India; to confronting stereotypes in Chile; to work with different communities of artists from around the world to have confidence in the power of seduction of art in us humans, I have been able to explore and live my questions.
Now how cool is that?! …
… it makes me wonder, why have I felt the need to do all this?
Well, maybe you can see that I am an intense person. I was a passionate girl and I have never wanted that to change. But this passion has not always been positive. Passion can be constructive or destructive.
And THIS is what I want to talk a little today.

The energy that drives our projects.

Is the quality of our intentions  important when making projects? Does it affect their impact? … These are interesting questions that I do not have the complete answer to yet.

I can say that not all of my projects were motivated by the joy and curiosity, but some projects did, just to save myself.

Once, I was so deeply sad that I realized that doing a project with other people was what I needed to save my year. I really really I wanted to stop living. I was not angry or upset. I just felt nothing. Just felt something pulling me down; slowing me down to a state of peace. And I longed for the peace and thought it was time to have it. I thought it was time to rest in peace. Since my childhood I have been aware of this reality: that one day we will all return to…peace. In this moment of sadness, I just longed for that peace to come faster.
See…emotions are confusing sometimes. We panic, because things do not go as expected, but sometimes we just have to wait a little longer to understand what it all means to discover wonderful things. So in the meantime, we have to lengthen the time. Stall. Make time happen faster.

In a lucid moment, I felt the need to save myself and saw that people around me were motivated to make a project and include me in it, so I grabbed this opportunity tightly and we did the project. I can now look back and say “well, at least I did something useful with my time!” “at least I will remember these projects as benchmarks of things I love and respect, instead of remembering these other things, these other problems, that do not define me. ” That I did not want to be defined by.
We can transform our negative emotions into positive actions.

The truth is that what you create, creates you back. The ideas that you practice
inform you of who you are. Of our strengths and your weaknesses.
If you want to have memorable and meaningful learnings you have to include yourself and commit your feelings into what you’re doing. And it will hurt. But as Albert Camus would say: “Life should live to the point of tears”…
Isn’t it amazing that we can do this as Melton fellows? We agree on common values and we can be intentional in making them real. And we have to make them real, because they are so difficult to live by every single day !!

Last week I was in Colombia where I learnt about the dismantling of the “hell on earth” that was “the Bronx” neighborhood in Bogota, where they used to kill people and cut them up in pieces and made  their bodies disappear by melting them in acid …. and it only makes me think that these could have been my hands. That there are some of us humans who get their pleasure from oppressing others, from the destruction of others.
Those could have been my hands, but they are not, and I’m happy for that. I am responsible for that. We are responsible for the fact that we can get pleasure from things that help others and not things that destroy others. We are now able to use our brains to decide, we are able to use this prefrontal cortex of ours that allows us to make complex decisions to design activities and people and environments that make us the person we think we are or the person we want to become.
We have this space, and these similar-minded organizations to channel our good and bad passions, and it is a privilege that we need to continue sharing.
Looking from a distance in this 25th anniversary, I see certain patterns emerging, some choreography in team dynamics, some dancing in my motivation, a fluctuating impact of the things I’ve done and their improvement has something to do with listening. With the noticing. With perception.
What’s going on? in and outside of me? … Who is moving? Who is making new choreographies? Should I copy their footsteps? Should I make my own dance?
Listen out. Notice.
With my projects I have wanted to explore the truth of my own passion and decide with which movements I want to be associated with. I have found these collaborations in the most unlikely places.
For example now I work with:
A group of physical educators working on embodied cognition and empathy.
A group of mathematicians who study the metaphors that emerge in artistic forms in the classroom,
A group of social workers who apply creative processes as a way to heal traumatic experiences
with many groups of artists who express the thoughts of their communities in powerful ways, and I have been able to contact them because of the projects I’ve done in the Melton Foundation. I have worked with them because my projects speak of my interests and relate to their problems.
I can now look back now and things make a little sense and my invitation is to use this anniversary to notice, to listen, to reflect:
Where is your curiosity leading you? Where is your passion leading you? Where is your pain leading you?…
… All these emotions are energy, motivation. We don’t need to be afraid of them, they can also take you to do good things.
And you should do good things. Because they can save you sometimes when you long for peace to come before, you will be able to find this peace in the honesty of your own story.
As leaders and communities of concerned people, we need to work intentionally with these dynamics in mind so that our efforts will result in a truly promising future.
“Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war ‘Martin Luther King Jr.said very wisely.
We are on this dance floor together. Let’s listen to the music, let’s understand how it is moving us, let’s communicate between us and let’s choreograph a great show.

I can’t wait.