A Cog in the Wheel

Sometimes I wonder how wise it is to hold onto the dream of living audaciously passionate with a huge hope to have some widespread positive impact on the world, when really most of us are cogs in the wheel. I tell myself that each cog has such incredible value and purpose that without it, the whole would not exist. So why then should such smallness (as a cog) equate insignificance in the day to day life?

I rode my bike along the coast today to Bolsa Chica headlands where more than one thousand cogs were discovered, leading archeologist to believe the 23 archaeological sites (some dating from Acjachemen villages thriving 8,000 years ago) may have possibly been a manufacturing site of these mysterious artifacts. The purpose of the cogs, whether religious or social is still largely debated, but their significance is clear as they were traded and found as far away as Chile.

I’m resting against a cement fire pit, facing the mesa where I have prayed with others during an Acjachemen Ancestral Walk. The sounds of Acjachemen chants and the clatter of a woman’s anklet made of mule deer hooves rings in my head. Ocean waves crash behind me and I try to imagine what this place looked like centuries before the palm trees were planted or PCH paved.

And I ponder the significance of the cog.

Nujood Ali, age 10, thought herself small and insignificant in April 2008 when she stood at the foot of the Yemen’s capital courthouse. Yet her demand for a divorce that would end the violence in her life had a tremendous impact. Reporters from every corner of the globe came to cover the story of this young girl’s courage and bravery to stand up to her husband, family and culture. And despite the global attention, including a book and recognition as Glamour Magazine’s 2008 Woman of the Year alongside Hillary Clinton, and unknown luxuries, after her divorce was granted Nujood wanted to just be a kid: to draw with colored pencils, watch Tom and Jerry cartoons, attend school and be with her family. Though Nujood’s steps felt humble and small, they resounded across the world and have empowered others to stand up for their rights.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

Martha Graham

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