Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color. ~ Rumi
It’s 4:30 a.m. and I am wide awake before having a single cup of coffee. I am looking for solace. I am looking for the switch that can illuminate and clarify and clean up what I am feeling. I read something that writer Anne Lamott wrote on her Facebook page a couple of days ago — about all the worries and doubts and losses swimming madly in her mind — and how “her tiny princess self” (inner child) was struggling to not freak out. I completely related to her post, and told her as much. I wrote on her wall (and in doing so also reminded myself): life is still amazing and wondrous and shitty.
And that has to be OK.
Still, I realize that my “tiny princess self” is (at least intermittently) freaking out. In the face of plenty to be upset about, plenty to feel adrift over, she wants to sit at the back of the closet hiding. And who can blame her?
Hurricane Sandy. The election. The often shriveled state of our nation’s heart and mind. The economy. Women’s lack of equal rights. The mistreatment of children. Bullying. Homophobia. Our crumbling infrastructure. The genetic modification of food. Hunger. Homelessness. The intractable partisanship of our political system. The amount of money currently trying to buy our government. The list goes on an on and on. There is certainly plenty to worry about.
But what does worrying get me? Nothing. It changes nothing about the state of things.
America is a dichotomy. We are both the most churlish, selfish, narcissistic, and self-congratulating society — and — wait for it — the most giving, selfless, open and wildly hopeful one as well. We are a melting pot of ideas and colors and ranges and views. And because we are both the light and the dark, we can sometimes tear ourselves up over middle ground, the gray area where most of life is lived. Still, no matter what’s going on on a national level, I have to get up and go teach my classes. I still have to grade papers and talk to my students in a way that allows them to see light. I cannot and will not tell them that the world they inherit is irreparably broken. I will not instruct them to embrace fear and walk out on possibility. That’s a betrayal of hope as far as I am concerned. I won’t be part of it.
In order to do this, I have to convince myself. I have to tell myself the world is a safe place, even when at times I am not convinced.
We are the ones who need to solve the myriad of problems facing us. It is our creativity and our ability to innovate that can change things for the better. We can discover new, sustainable ways of living and working. I know we can. However, we cannot do that if we are hiding in the back of the closet next to the Christmas decorations and a pile of shoes that no longer fit.
I got into a kerfuffle yesterday with someone who is a friend of a friend on Facebook. (Yes, I need to get a life off of Facebook, but that’s a separate post.) He’s voting republican — this stranger — and the fear coming off of him was palpable. He’s terrified of what may happen if the current president remains in office four more years. He’s certain that the four horsemen of the apocalypse will appear if the result this Tuesday doesn’t favor “his side.” He was a font of misinformation and fear, but he truly believed what he was saying. He was convinced that I was the one who was wrong, misguided, mistaken. And no matter how many times I refuted his claims, he could not change his sense that he’s in mortal danger. I finally told him that there was little point in continuing to lob missiles back and forth at each other, when he wasn’t open to hearing anything other than right-wing talking points. And, truth be told, I was not remotely open to his point of view either. We were at an impasse.
I got off line and did some soul searching.
I realized that changing that man’s mind wasn’t the point. I needed to shift my focus to what I want, to the world I want to live in.
“Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life, you will have been all of these.” ~ Siddhārtha Gautama
“My religion is kindness.” ~ The Dalai Lama
Resisting that man’s stance on things changes nothing for me or for him. No matter how sad I feel for him, my sadness will not make him happy. Each one of us has to do the work. No one else can do our spiritual work for us.
I used an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) video to dislodge the experience (see Brad Yates’ YouTube videos if you are interested in investigating tapping as a means to process emotional duress.) Afterward, I sat down and did my evening prayers and turned my attention to my life and what I actually do have control over.
Today I wrote myself a note, a reminder about what’s truly important. I offer it here as a sliver of comfort in this world gone mad:
- Focus on what you want (what you are for) not what you don’t want (what you are against).
- Always choose love over fear.
- Turn your life toward ease and flow. Play more; work less.
- Resist nothing. Pushing against anything entrenches it.
- Everyone is exactly where he or she needs to be to learn exactly what he or she needs to learn.
- It’s more important to be happy than to be right.
Now it’s time for that cup of coffee. Enjoy your Saturday.
© 2012 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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