In The School of Life, It's Time to Shift From Manure to Compost

In The School of Life, It's Time to Shift From Manure to Compost

"The Universe throws up roadblocks
so that you can find the better solution."
                               -- Robert Jennings,

If life is a school or a learning opportunity, then all the challenges we meet are tests administered to see if we've mastered the course material. Looking at current events that way, we can tell that we are in the middle of several exams all being administered at once.

Some of us are being tested in our health, or our relationships, or our jobs... and all of us are definitely being tested on how we handle the world crises, the environment, and the direction our world is headed.

Sometimes, prior to exams, the teacher may give clues as to what will be on the test or maybe someone will give you a cheat sheet. But most times, we are on our own. We have to come up with the "right" answer at the moment the question is posed.

What Is The Right Answer?

On multiple-test exams, answers are easier. There's usually only one, even if it is "all of the above". However, in more complicated exams, you have to write in your answer, sometimes even compose a whole essay to explain or defend your viewpoint.

That's where we are in life. There don't seem to be clear multiple choice answers these days. There is no "one right answer". We have to study the situations and come at them from different perspectives to find the right "one-size-fits-all" answer.

However, maybe that's the whole point of these "exams". Maybe the point is not to get the "right" answer, but to learn to work together as a team to attain a solution that works for all. Maybe it's not about what I think or what you think, but more about what we can resolve together as a "win-win" solution.

From Manure to Compost

I'm actually encouraged about what I see going on in the world at large. While there is definitely some weird stuff going on, some of it downright frightening or embarrassing, there is also something wonderful happening. And that is the waking up that is taking place. People who were apathetic or who'd given up on trying to change "the system" or the way things are, are saying, "Hey hold on! We don't agree with this and we're going to do something about it!"

Now, some of the methods may not be to our liking. Some of the rhetoric may be over the top in our opinion. But nevertheless, it looks to me that while the sh*t is hitting the fan, we're actually processing it into compost.

If you've ever made compost, you know that you start with food scraps, aka garbage, and it actually looks like it's going from good to bad as it rots and deteriorates. But lo and behold after a certain time, after it's gone from bad to worse, it actually starts turning into rich soil for the garden. It's a process that has to take place. You don't go instantly from garbage to great soil -- you have to go through the cycle of rotting before you get the good stuff.

We can see that same process in the healing of the body. You start by feeling sick, then you feel worse perhaps with a runny nose and fever, and then after it seems to be getting even worse, it eventually gets better. And we are, right now, somewhere on the spectrum of bad to worse to better.

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Things Are Looking Up

What I see as the good news is that people are reacting, participating, and doing something. It's a start. Of course, we will have to do more than just react. We will have to continue to be involved in the direction our world is taking, but the great news is that we've decided to take back the reigns of our buggy. We have let others drive our buggy for a long time... doctors decided how to handle our health challenges, TV advertisers "decided" what choices we had, and politicians made major decisions for our well-being based on their well-being, not ours.

So, yes things are looking up. It's good news when the coma patient wakes up. We've been in a coma, simply living our daily 9-5 existence on automatic, and thinking that the only thing we had control of was what happened within the walls of our homes (if even that). Yet, now we are saying, wait a minute! That's my life you're controlling, that's my kids' futures you're dealing with, that's my health and the health of my grandchildren and my planet that you're messing with.

Perhaps you remember the scene from the 1976 movie Network? Where the main character shouts: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore! Things have got to change!" Well, it may have taken us 40 years to react but now we're getting up from our easy chairs and screaming out the window and on the streets, "We're as mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore!"

Where Do We Go From Here?

First you have to wake up, then you have to recognize there's a problem, then you have to decide you want to something about it. And then, you take action.

Whichever step you're at, welcome to the stage. Shakespeare, in the Merchant of Venice, referred to the world as "a stage where every man must play a part". So it's time for each one of us to figure out what our part is. Small, big, it doesn't matter. Each one of us has a role.

Ready? Get set, go!

Article Inspiration: Movie

Network: Still Mad As HellNetwork: Still Mad As Hell
Actors: Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch.

Click here for more info and/or to order this movie.

About The Author

Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.

Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on


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