I was listening to the radio yesterday while making dinner (Chickpea and Cashew Tikka Masala, yes delicious and super fast) and there was a story about a woman named Pura Belpré who moved from Puerto Rico to NYC in 1921. She got a job with the public library and began telling stories to children at the library in English and Spanish. Got news for you, in the 1920s, there was no foreign language children’s book section at the library much less someone telling stories in multiple languages. Nobody was doing anything like what Pura Belpré was doing. She made puppets. She trained other storytellers. She incorporated folktales to make children who were raised in other cultures feel welcome and at home in the vastness of NYC. The story was fascinating and a lovely tribute to Pura Belpré and the work she began that continues today. NPR‘s All Things Considered ran the story as the first in an upcoming series they’re calling Boundbreakers, stories about people who made a difference, “well before the world recognized it.”
I was really taken with that word, boundbreakers. I thought about Pura Belpré and others like her who are able to have such a deep impact on the lives of others. I thought about the boundaries she crossed in her gentle and powerful librarian way. Then I thought about who she would have to be to be a boundbreaker, and it occurred to me that in order to take great action, to have an impact like that on the world, to affect the beauty that is an increase in cultural compassion, a person would have to be pretty unbound internally (shocking, I know for the coach to go all internal here). For Pura Belpré to do what she did for the children of NYC, she needed to be fully herself. She needed to be unbound by judgments about the worth of her ideas. She needed to be detached from the possibility of ridicule and disdain. She needed to recognize, go through, and lay to rest (at least temporarily) the notion that she could not do what she thought needed to be done. This is the work a bound breaker does well before ANYONE has any clue they’re doing it.
As I pondered this reality, I thought about the ways my own life has changed in the last year through coaching and a lot of hard soul work. I have changed more in the last year than I have in the last 10, maybe the last 20. All of that change has to do with becoming unbound, or at least less bound. There is so much freedom in dropping those bounds, in recognizing the thoughts I’ve used to keep myself far too safe for far too long. There is so much release in taking the risks that suddenly seem, while still scary, far less threatening than they were before. There is so much joy on the other side. And people, there are so many wonderful people just waiting to meet you, all of you, unbound.