The Last Six Months

So, how are we doing, friends?

If you’re anything like me, you’re exhausted from swimming upstream against a current of bad news: attempts to repeal the ACA, bomb drops, impending environmental destruction, refugee bans and deportations, a proposed budget that would defund Sesame Street (didn’t this last one just seem gratuitously villainous?)  Okay, I’ll stop before we all break out in hives.  My point is this: watching the people in power attempt to turn our government into the moral equivalent of the Galactic Empire in Star Wars has not been easy.

I dealt with the utter devastation of the election result by collapsing to the floor in a heap where I remained for the next two hours.  This was the only thing to do: let the truths of the moment have me and exist the way they wanted.  So I had my epic ugly cry.  I let the grief flow and the fear run in circles like a crazed, rabid animal.

In my experience, feeling and allowing like this pretty much always leads to some measure of calm and clarity, and lo and behold, after the weeping subsided, a still, small voice started talking to me.  One of the things it said was: you are leading a deeper life now.

This sounded noble and profound and everything, but to be honest, I was hoping for something more along the lines of: oh, don’t worry; it will all work out; everything will be okay; no harm will come to anyone!  A deeper life sounded interesting maybe, but not particularly comforting.

Still, I appreciated the voice’s realness, how it seemed to acknowledge that, yeah, this is a pretty fucked-up situation that will require more of you.  I saw how in this landscape, I would need to find another route to okayness, one that did not depend on having an executive branch of government I more or less trusted not to lead us to global calamity.  And I would have to find something deeper in the world and in myself to get there.

So this has basically been my life project for the past several months.  Admittedly, it hasn’t always gone well.  Things still often feel mind-numbingly hopeless and overwhelmingly bad.  On the hard days, when despair descends like a thick, stagnant fog, it can feel like the only real thing is the empty echo of a question I don’t really know what to do with: what’s the point?

But one day, rather than just letting it hang there like a sad, wilted daisy, I tried to find a real answer.  Wait a minute, I thought…what is the point?  Like the actual thing we’re here for?  The real reason why?

If realized if I can answer this question, or even just ponder it for a while, I’ve begun to crawl back toward the light.

So this is all I do when the latest holographic nightmare flashes from the screen, when I find myself in an accelerating spiral of anguish – I remember that things like love, hope, and beauty exist in the world.  I remember that they are tenacious and unerasable, and that in hard and scary times, they shine with a new durability.

These are some of the things I do to get there:

  • Celebrate small acts of love and activism.
  • Go out of my way to follow beauty.
  • Ground myself in the right now and right here.
  • Refuse to mirror the energy of the things I don’t want, especially in relationship with myself and others.
  • Focus my energies on being the person I want to be in the world no matter the circumstances – basically: grounded, kind, and true.

None of this eliminates what’s hard about this moment, of course, but it does is remind me why I’m here and what I believe life is for.

So here’s what I propose we do, at least to start: take a collective deep breath, hold on to whatever trace of life-affirming goodness is present today, and then keep going, together.

felix-kayser-43337

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