- Her Epiphany: "No one is going to rescue you."
Imagine waking up tomorrow and knowing that the day wouldn't be any different from yesterday; that the infinity of tomorrows would all be the same. What would you do? Imagine that for the last forty-five years you had done what everyone had told you to do. What you would you do? Imagine you had all the resources available to keep you fed and clothed and entertained but still felt stuck in the endless morass of your life. What would you do? These are the existential question that we all face to varying degrees but they are the questions, the feelings that incubated within Margaret Lloyd for four decades before they could be contained no longer and demanded resolution. In the early 1960's, that resolution came.
Her Epiphany: “No one is going to rescue you.”
At the lowest depth of a depression, Ms. Lloyd woke up one morning to a voice in her head that told her exactly that: she could rely on no one but herself to create her life. This one simple statement had pulled open the curtains in the dark room she had been inhabiting and she woke startled, telling herself: “I could do anything I damn pleased.” What had been a sluggish mire that she was trudging through, the long days quickly became hours of opportunity to recreate herself.
Fortunately, Ms. Lloyd had grown up affluent and had married a successful businessman. Their combined resources allowed her epiphanies to come to fruition slowly and organically. However, this same good fortune ill-prepared her for handling the challenges of life. At forty-five years old with few skills, four young children, and a recently deceased husband, Ms. Lloyd was alone and overwhelmed. With the new outlook on life but no guidance on how to proceed, that same disembodied voice in her head stopped her in her tracks as she entered an alley way. It said: “if you really believe what you think you believe, you’re going to have to let go.” Her first thought? “Let go? How can I let go? I have four children and I’m all alone and I’m hanging on by my fingernails.” Serendipitously, she looked in the sky and saw an “obelisk” floating in the alley. This misperception of a simple building forced her to think:
“I can only see one side of that [building] but the universe can see inside and outside and all four sides- or god, or whatever it is- and I thought I can only see one side of anything. And what makes me think I can be in control of anything I can only see one side of? I’m really not in control, I just think I am. But the universe is. And if I let go and trust whatever comes then I will be presented with things that I have to deal with and I have to deal with them anyhow.”
These seemingly contradictory revelations - that only she can save herself and that she needs to stop trying to control everything – changed Ms. Lloyd’s entire life. For her remaining forty-five years she spent her days trying to empower others and live, as she called it, “within her knowing.”
Empowered as never before, Mrs. Lloyd moved into a new home only blocks away from New York University and enrolled in classes. She pursued her lifelong interest in the sciences and eventually graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geology. With this success under her belt and a new knowledge of the natural world, Ms. Lloyd began her personal quest into understanding what we would now call the interconnections of the global ecosystem. She looked to the Deep Ecologist Arne Naess and the writings of the environmental theologians Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry as her guide. Coupled with her intuition, or her “knowing,” Ms. Lloyd used these philosophies to recreate herself and the gifts she would leave upon the world.
The Lloyds had great affinity for the home and community they had built in Kershaw County, South Carolina. Ms. Lloyd was born in Philadelphia, had a home in New York, and with her husband bought a home and raised their family in South Carolina. Because of these deep roots the Lloyds gave generously to the area and helped build the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County and a preserve now called the Lloyd Woods. Being familiar with the power of philanthropy through these and other gifts, Ms. Lloyd found that giving funds to the Deep Ecologist thinkers of Whidbey Island Institute in the state of Washington would be an ideal way to support the environmental philosophies that had shaped her own mind. The Institute was able to construct a handsome building used for large gatherings with her gift.
Mrs. Lloyd felt she could give in other ways, more than with just with funding, and began to explore her own creativity. In the mid-1990's she started working on a novel directed at young adults demonstrating the interconnectedness of our actions. Set as fantasy as well as a parable, Hortishland is the story of a mythical and bountiful place filled with people living simple lives. Guided by elders, Fates, and rules brought to them mysteriously the people of Hortishland struggle to ethically build their community in an environmentally sound way. When some folks act improperly a deep and unifying secret is serendipitously discovered: that the consequences of the Hortishes’ actions not only affect themselves but also impact another world that only be faintly communicated with. This world is called Earth.
The inspiration to write a fictional story and work with an editor to get it published derived from Ms. Lloyd’s “knowing.” She felt that if all of humanity could tap into the inner voice that we all have we would be guided toward good work and self-actualization. Because of this deep-felt belief she did not stop at writing the book but felt compelled to purchase copies for local Kershaw County high school English classes and offer to speak to the students about this philosophy.
At the start of the new millennium, a new mode of communication was needed to share her belief. Ms. Lloyd, in her 80's, worked with a website developer to create MakeConnections.org in 2004. When most grandparents are enjoying their leisure and retirement, Ms. Lloyd was creating an environmental education website aimed at inspiring the word’s young children to recognize that the water cycle, the food we eat, the land we live on, and the air we all breathe is part of the same home. Her message was clear: make the connection.
Margaret Lloyd passed away in April 2014 at 98 years old. A mother, a wife and widow, an author, a philanthropist, a land owner, and a committed member of the world community, Margaret Lloyd was someone who believed strongly that the world was beautiful and could be made even better. She woke up one morning in the exact middle of her life and decided to live the rest of her life fully. This second half, almost five decades, was committed to that belief. Margaret Lloyd did live fully and was active in pursuing her vision through to the end. And while her gifts were great, her legacy is only the beginning of her contribution.