Sharing some favorite pairings with you on this lovely Friday morning:
Artwork – “Evocation of Butterflies” by Odilon Redon
Music – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Recomposed by Max Richter
More Redon to revel in as you listen
I began this blog five years ago, in July 2012. It’s been a wild ride, and I’ve loved every minute of it. My first post earned me one “like” and no comments, and now I have over 9000 followers, mostly due to being “Freshly Pressed” three times.
Still, it’s humbling.
When you start blogging it’s like tapping out a weak signal into a vast universe wondering if there’s anyone out there listening who will pick up and respond.
You feel small and alone at first, but powerful too, like that first explorer setting out into the wilderness, not knowing what you will find there, if anything at all.
And then you get your first ping back, a response. That’s all it takes. You’re not alone after all. Someone is listening, someone like you, and community of like-minded adventurers is formed. Your little spacecraft has a purpose, and a grounding (a following), as you zip through cyberspace exploring what’s out there.
The purpose of this blog, as I wrote about in my first post , has not changed much, although the emphasis has shifted over time.
“I created this blog to explore what it means to be living on the edge of the wild.
We all are, in some way, living on the edge of the wild, either literally or figuratively, whether we know it or not. We all are standing at the edge of some great unknown, exploring what it means to be human in a more-than-human universe.
We encounter the “wild” not only in the natural world, but in ourselves and our daily lives, if only in our own strange dreams, our own unruly minds and rebellious bodies, our own inscrutable families and weird and wonderful pets.
We encounter the “wild” at the edges of science, the arts, and human consciousness.”
I started out with a series of “Sea Sagas” about when we went sailing around the world, most posts on the why and how of it, not getting very far in our journey, and I’d like to get back to that again.
The wildest, bravest, and most romantic thing I’ve ever done was to fully embrace my boyfriend’s dream of sailing around the world and make it my own.
In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s why I married him.
I also wrote a lot about the art and craft of writing, and my own writing experience. The two-part series about writing with Annie Dillard is one of my and my followers’ favorites.
When I look at the things I write about, that I’m drawn to write about, that seize me, here’s what I see, what I’m drawn to explore:
The gap between appearance and reality; between what’s real and what’s not, and how we can ever truly know for sure. If it’s possible at all.
The dark and the light, good and evil, beauty and brutality, the foolish and profound: how they play together, how they are all wound up in each other, how it’s almost impossible to tear them apart, as least in our ordinary, daily experiences. They lay side by side, or one on top of the other; they copulate over and over, and we, this life itself, is what they give birth to.
Some of my most “viewed” posts explore those darker edges of human consciousness. Hardly a day goes by where the following post does not get several views:
The most horrifying sound I’ve ever heard came one night soon after we moved here. A scream of pure terror that seemed to last forever.
Although I wrote it five years ago in October 2012, it got 106 views last month and 93 the month before, even though it was never freshly pressed. It was one of the hardest posts to write and one of my favorites because of that, I suppose. It spawned a similarly hard post The Deer’s Scream, My Mother’s Eyes, and a Ripe Strawberry,
Perhaps at the very end, when there finally is no escape from death, like that deer, like my mother, and that awful inevitable conclusion chasing us down grabs hold, something unimaginable happens. Some unseen hand plucks us like a ripe strawberry from the jaws of death and swallows us whole, savoring all the sweetness of our brief lives, and reaffirming with a sigh, “Oh, so delicious!”
A prose poem followed, based on my experiences caring for my mother when she was dying: 13 Ways of Looking at Dying, Just Before, and the Moment After.
“Come here. I want you to sit on my lap.”
“No, Mama. I’m too heavy. I’ll hurt you.”
“Come, I want to hold you, like I used to.” She pats her lap.
Her hands are all bone now, her nails long and yellow. Her pajama bottoms are so loose there’s almost no leg to sit on. I balance on the edge of the recliner and she pulls my head down to her chest.
“There now,” she says, “there now.”
I feel like I’m lying on glass. Like any second I’ll break through. Like the long sharp shards of her body holding me up are giving way, and I’m being torn to pieces in her arms.
Another popular series of posts began with True Ghost Stories, Part One, Growing up in a Haunted House. One of the most popular in that series was about A Demon Sitting on My Chest. The series ends with me questioning whether all I experienced was “really” real, and evoking the voice of one of my favorite GOT characters.
So are the ghosts, demons, and other supernatural beings that have haunted humans through the centuries, that make brief appearances and then disappear, “real”? I do not know, and I’m not sure if it even matters. They are real enough to those that experience them, as least while they are experiencing them, and then afterwards, one wonders.
Each of us makes but brief ghostly appearances in this world we call real. We apparently spring from nearly nothing–a few multiplying cells, and then disappear into nothing as our bodies disintegrate after a short visitation that can last a few days or a few decades. Are we “real”?
“You know nothing, Jon Snow!” So claims the wilding Ygritte in the Game of Thrones series, a saying that has become a popular catchphrase for fans. And rightly so, I believe. It has the ring of truth about it.
Author George R. R. Martin created a soft-edged, constantly evolving world that surprises and delights and dismays us at every turn. And if we become too comfortable in believing we know who the good guys and bad guys are, or who has power and who is powerless, what is real and what is not real, we are sure to have it turn topsy-turvy in no time at all.
It is a world that feels very much like our own, psychologically, emotionally, if we would only admit it. Perhaps we are all Jon Snows, grasping to know for certain, what can only be known tentatively at best. And this is true when considering the limits of our own private, personal lives, as it is when considering the Big Questions about Life and Death and Reality.
So when people ask me now if I believe all this stuff I’ve written about in this series of ghost stories, I can hear Ygritte’s mocking voice challenge me: “You know nothing, Jon Snow!” And I wisely keep mum.
But lately my posts have been more about exploring the world of art, and my adventures playing with watercolor, than about writing or exploring the darker corners of consciousness.
I don’t know where this little blog-craft will take me next, and that’s the fun of it, that not-knowing: The mystery that lies beyond the edge of the wild and beckons us onward.
Thank you for taking this ride with me, for reading and responding, and for allowing me to be part of your lives as I follow you on your adventures.
I fell in love with the title of Milan Kundera’s novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” long before I ever read it. To me it evokes something unbearably joyful and rich, playful and profound.
So I was disappointed to find the novel itself, while a wonderful read, rich and playful and its own way, suggested a different interpretation of its title, a profound sadness at how fragile and transitory life is, how quickly its bright light fades.
I don’t see life that way at all. I mean, I see it, I understand why it may seem that way. But I don’t believe it.
To me, the beauty of this “lightness of being” is not that it is “unbearable” as in too horrible to bear, but “unbearable” as in too delicious to bear, to contain. It spills over.
I think that’s what I was trying to convey in my painting of the dancing poppies in a blue bowl. The beauty of the seemingly solid things that surround us, that make up our lives, is that they are not “heavy” or “static,” but constantly in motion, “dancing” as it were through time and space. Constantly dissolving itself and resolving into something else, similar, but not quite the same. The way the present moment dissolves and resolves instantaneously as we move through time.
There’s a wonderful analogy of the universe/reality by the physicist David Bohm. He sees reality and consciousness, what he calls the “implicate order,” as a “coherent whole, which is never static or complete but which is an unending process of movement and unfoldment.” He likens this whole (all that ever was and ever will be) as a tightly woven ball of yarn, one infinite thread. Yet the way we perceive it through time and space is as if the ball of yarn is rolling away and unraveling before our eyes. We glimpse “what is” second by second, inch by inch, as it reveals itself to us in micro-bites and nano-seconds. It’s not that reality is actually unraveling, but that the illusion of its unraveling is how we come to comprehend it, see it, know it, love it. We are one with it all the while, even while it appears as something distinct and separate from our selves.
Another analogy that I love is Indra’s Net. Here the universe/reality is like an infinite net with a pearl at each interstice. Each pearl reflects every other pearl as well as the whole net itself. Each pearl contains within itself, as part of its own lustrous being, part of its own distinct individuality, all the others around it. The part contains the whole and vice versa.
This view of reality makes sense to me, not only from a scientific and spiritual viewpoint, but experientialy as well. I experience this every time I walk through the house and pass through one doorway after another and watch this interior landscape flowing past me, one room dissolving as a new one approaches. Every time I look out the window and take in the trees and hills and houses and sky and hold them in my mind’s eye even as I turn away. Practical, ordinary, experiences we all share.
I hold all those I love with me wherever I go as I know they do me. My breath is constantly circulating through my body as I breathe in the world around me and breath it out again. Nothing is still for even a second. All of life is in constant motion, the atoms within us and the galaxies swirling about our heads.
This is the unbearable lightness of being. Dancing poppies, dissolving bowl. Brush dipped in water and paint spilling images across a page. All this spilling together going on right here and now as you read this, my heart and mind spilling out to you.
What could be lighter, brighter, more playful and profound than that? This unbearably rich and joyful lightness of being.
In celebration of April as the National Month of Poetry, I’ve been looking back at posts on poetry that I’ve written over the years, and thought that I’d share two “firsts” with you:
I’ll save that one for next time and start with Dickman under the original title.
I stumbled across him by accident. One thing led to another and another, the way it often happens surfing the internet. And there it was, a video of Matthew Dickman reading at the San Francisco Zen Center.
And I was blown away. Yes, I actually was. The same way Emily Dickinson said poetry affected her—as if the top of her head had been removed—“blown away” I believe is the expression we’d use today.
Now, Dickman’s poetry isn’t Zen, or even spiritual. It’s earthy, sometimes crass and crude, lightly humorous. Hip, you might say, in the way the beat poets were hip, so clued into the “street life” of their age, with such insight and understanding, that they could be said to speak for that generation.
So I think is Dickman’s poetry, though since I’m not from that generation, and don’t normally speak that language, I may be wrong.
So please listen and tell me. Am I right? Does he capture something from today’s youth that expresses its particular angst and yearning , love and loss, in a way that both elevates and exemplifies it?
I’m trying to figure out just what captivates me in listening to him read his poetry. It’s so unpretentious and unassuming:
Like a scrap of paper blown down a dirty sidewalk that takes on a beauty of its own without meaning to.
Like that paper bag being blown around and around in the film “American Beauty.” Remember? It’s like that.
In this way, it may be Zen-like, after all. In that his blunt, sometimes unbeautiful images strike you as an unexpected blow, like that “thwack” from the Master’s stick on the student’s head, that makes you wake up and “see,” but you’re not sure yet what you’re seeing, only that this quick-silver clarity is already fading, while something solid and meaty seeped unawares into your bones and shored them up.
If you’ve felt this way before, you know what I mean.
If you haven’t, don’t stress, you will.
Listen to Dickman reading his poem “Slow Dance”, or read the poem “V” I’ve posted below the video. See if it happens to you. Tell me if it does or doesn’t do what I say. I really want to know. People either love his work or hate it, I’ve heard, so either way I’m open.
If you want more, pick up his book All-American Poem.
Or go to the blog where I first found Matthew Dickman reading at The San Francisco Zen Center. It’s about 22 minutes long, but well worth the time it takes to listen to it.
Matthew Dickman reads his poem “Slow Dance” at Narrative Night 2008 in Seattle, Washington.
By Matthew Dickman
The skinny girl walking arm-in-arm
with her little sister
is wearing a shirt that says
TALK NERDY TO ME
and I want to,
I want to put my bag of groceries down
beside the fire hydrant
and whisper something in her ear about long division.
I want to stand behind her and run
a single finger down her spine
while she tells me about all her correlatives.
Maybe she’ll moan a little
when I tell her that x equals negative-b
plus or minus the square root
of b-squared minus 4(a)(c) all over
2a. I have my hopes.
I could show her my comic books
and Play Station. We could pull out
my old D&D cards
and sit in the basement with a candle lit.
I know enough about Dr. Who
and the Star Fleet Enterprise
to get her shirt off, to unbutton her jeans.
We could work out String Theory
all over her bedroom.
We could bend space together.
But maybe that’s not what she’s asking.
The world’s been talking dirty
ever since she’s had the ears to listen.
It’s been talking sleazy to all of us
and there’s nothing about the hydrogen bomb
that makes me want to wear a cock ring
or do it in the kitchen while a pot of water boils.
Maybe, with her shoulders slouched
the way they are and her long hair
covering so much of her face,
she’s asking, simply, to be considered
something more than a wild night, a tight
curl of pubic hair, the pink,
complicated, structures of nipples.
Maybe she wants to be measured beyond
the teaspoon shadow of the anus
and the sweet mollusk of the tongue,
beyond the equation of limbs and seen
as a complete absolute.
And maybe this is not a giant leap
into the science of compassion, but it’s something.
So when I pass her
I do exactly what she has asked of me,
I raise my right hand and make a V
the way Vulcans do when they wish someone well,
hoping she gets what she wants, even
if it has to be in a galaxy far away.
Paul Klee, Versunkene Landschaft, 1918
Wallace Stevens once famously said: “You can’t get the news from poems, but men die every day for lack of what is found there.”
It may be hard to argue the truthfulness of that statement when we consider the widespread unpopularity of reading poetry. A recent study finds that “since 2002, the share of poetry-readers has contracted by 45 percent—resulting in the steepest decline in participation in any literary genre.”
Poetry, it appears, is less popular than knitting, jazz, and dance. Perhaps that’s why we need the month of April to celebrate poetry, to help curb the decline and rekindle a comeback.
But Stevens wasn’t arguing that we die from the lack of reading poetry, but from the lack of what is found in there, the thing that inspires poets to put pen to paper, and artists to pick up their brushes, and musicians to play their instruments.
The thing we find in poetry that saves us, that renews us, that keeps us from dying for lack of, is the “poetry” we find in life, in nature, in human experience. In our deepest feelings and highest aspirations. So much of written poetry is about that, discerning the poetry in ordinary life, in things forgotten and overlooked and dismissed, and unfurling it in words on paper for all to read.
The ability to see poetry in all the aspects of our lives is what saves us. We don’t have to be poets to see the beauty, symmetry, grace in our surroundings, the imperfect perfection of ordinary things; to discern the repetitions in patterns, the rhymes and rhythms that surround us, to hear the alliteration, and the way assonance and dissonance complement and complete each other; to understand the contradictions and similarities of things, the subtle differences and deep complexities, to appreciate the humor and irony, the paradox and profundity that weaves itself through our lives.
In all of this is the poetry that poets write about. It’s what makes life rich and diverse and meaningful. It’s what moves us toward compassion and forgiveness, and inspires us toward greatness, and fills us with hope and humility.
The discernment and appreciation of the subtle and glorious intricacies of this grand tapestry in which we are woven–this is what saves us.
And this is what we find in reading poetry, if it is poetry at all.
I’ll leave you with the following poem.
by Pablo Neruda
And it was at that age . . . Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.
I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.
And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.
It was love at first sight when I discovered the paintings of Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923). Known as “the painter of light,” his seascapes and beach scenes are drenched in a warm, buttery light, and swim with dazzling swirls of color.
They evoke a dynamic sense of playfulness, as if capturing fleeting moments of the here and now, brief snapshots frozen in time.
They reveal a deep love of nature and the simple pleasures of life. Sorolla was a family man and many of his paintings feature children at play, mothers with flowing skirts, young women with veils and parasols.
As I enter each painting and let it wash over me, all that luscious light and sensuous movement thrills me, and I feel bathed in bliss
I couldn’t help sharing some of my favorites with you. Enjoy!
Celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King days before Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of the Unites States could not seem more incongruous, nor be more timely. And needed.
When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, he had begun to turn his attention away from the civil rights movement to what he considered to be an even more compelling problem: economic injustice.
“For we know now that it isn’t enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t have enough money to buy a hamburger?”
He had discovered that the major divisive force in America was not color, but class. The rich and powerful, whether black or white, shared the same interest in keeping the races segregated, exploiting the poor and powerless, and maintaining the status quo.
He believed the unequal distribution of wealth was tearing America apart and threatening to make it a two-class society. He wanted to help build the kind of America that would not tolerate poverty within its borders, that would not allow one class to exploit another, that would not allow the powerful to abuse the powerless.
He called for “a revolution in values” that placed “democratic principles and justice above privilege.” Fighting for this change would not be easy. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
“We will be greatly misled if we feel that the problem will work itself out. Structures of evil do not crumble by passive waiting,” he warned. “The battering rams of justice” are needed.
Shortly before his death he began organizing for another march on Washington, this time for economic equality. He fought for an “economic bill of rights” that guaranteed full employment and a livable wage, affordable housing and a “massive public works programs (to build) decent housing, schools, hospitals, mass transit, parks and recreation centers.”
“Freed from the smothering prison of poverty, people could chart their own path and fully realize their human potential.”
At King’s death, nearly 50 years ago, the minimum wage in today’s dollars would be $9.54. Now it is only $7.25. That’s a loss of nearly three dollars per hour for today’s workers.
The gap between the rich and the poor is far greater now than it was then. The two-class society King feared and warned us against is already here. And people in the mostly white rust belt who had been suffering steep economic decline because of jobs being shipped overseas, decided they had had enough. Decided that career politicians had failed them. Decided that what they needed was a “strong man” to save them.
Why do the hard work of organizing, of mobilizing workers to strike and march, of flooding into the offices of their congress to demand change, of creating white papers on policy-change and registering voters? Why do that when they had a demagogue who promised, “I will fix it, I will bring jobs back, I alone will do this.”
They trusted him to do hard work for them. A man who said the minimum wage was already too high. Who did not support tuition-free colleges. Who’s idea of stirring the economy was to give even more tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent. And whose “jobs bill” appears to be giving even more subsidies (corporate welfare) to big business to “fix” our broken infrastructure. It’s just another form of “trickle-down,” voodoo economics.
The few jobs Trump has saved so far by giving kickbacks to corporations to keep their factories in the US is a small pittance in comparison to the number of jobs President Obama saved in his stimulus packet and in the auto industry bail-out at the beginning of his term.
But so far these Trump supporters seem pleased. And well they should. What they want is THEIR jobs back. And they believe that Trump will keep trying to do that.
Unfortunately, Trump isn’t interested in economic equality across the board. He isn’t interested in tearing apart the political policies and economic structures that create and sustain a two-class society, that allows the rich to grow richer and the poor poorer as one class exploits another. Economic justice isn’t on his radar or even part of his vocabulary.
And for many Trump supporters that’s just fine.
But the rest of us, hopefully we are waking up. A divided America cannot stand. Economic just across the board is sorely needed, in all corners of our nation. In the rural outback and inner cities, the factories and fast food kitchens. It’s needed for home care workers and preschool teachers, for farm workers and grocery clerks, for all who work full-time jobs for half-time wages, for all who see good jobs disappear without the training programs to support those who lose them.
What we need, as King said, is “a revolution in values” that places “democratic principles and justice above privilege.”
We need an economic system based on love. That’s what transforms the heart and mind and motivates real lasting change.
King said: “Power without love is reckless and abusive. Love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against justice . . . It is the collusion of immoral power with powerless immorality that constitutes the major crisis of our times.”
That kind of love and economic equality lifts all boats, for, as King said, we are all “interrelated.”
“The agony of the poor impoverishes the rich. The betterment of the poor enriches the rich. We are inevitably our brother’s keeper because we are our brother’s brother. Whatever affects one affects all indirectly.”
This is Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy to us, and his challenge: To end poverty and economic injustice by wedding power with love.
“In the final analysis, love is not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual.
When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems.
Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.”
In the age of Trump, this kind of love is needed more than ever.
“Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.”
The single-most, salient symbol of Christmas, for me, is a shining star in the night sky.
It’s what wakened the shepherds and fell them to their knees, what mesmerized the Magi and led them across a wild desert with precious gifts in hand. It’s what shone above a humble dwelling, revealing a holy trinity–mother, father, child. It’s what revealed the Christ, a promise of hope, salvation, peace on earth, and goodwill toward all.
It’s what leads us each year away from our mundane, daily lives to a world full of wonder, magic, and mystery. It’s what drops us to our knees in recognition of the vastness and beauty of the universe, and our own humble and radiant place within it.
For me Christmas will forever be wrapped in the silence of a starry night, the background against which the beautiful pageantry and rituals and traditions of Christmas unfold.
All unite in igniting that sense of awe and wonder and delight, of humility and holiness:
The Christmas tree all aglow in the dark, pointing upward to the heavens.
The magical whimsy of that great gifter, Santa, driving his sleigh across a night full of stars.
The children tucked in their beds as their fondest wishes magically descend in the night to await the first light.
Whole streets full of houses ablaze in the night, inviting the gasps of wonder and delight in the young at heart.
Candles shining in a still, dark church as voices unite and rise in songs of joy and adoration.
All are mere reflections and whimsical mimicry of that first night of wonder so long ago. It’s what brought us, and still brings us, to our knees when we realize all that childlike wonder and delight, humility and awe, generosity and love and innocence, lies deeply embedded in each one of us.
It signifies a promise of hope, salvation, and wholeness. Of identity with out own Christ-like nature, our own unity with the divine.
We are that shining star in a dark night.
We are those humble shepherds and adoring Magi.
We are that infant cradled in the holy Trinity.
We are that promise of hope and salvation and holiness.
Christmas is the Christ, and a bright star in a dark night is what leads us to him, to our own humble rebirth full of awe and wonder: the recognition of the Christ in each of us.
May the peace and power and glory of the Christ be with you all this Christmas.
From “Christmas throughout Christendom – The Christmas Tree”
In these seemingly dark and troubling times, I’m finding that reflecting on the following words of wisdom to be a soothing and enlightening antidote. It’s from a well-worn book that I’ve treasured over the years: Essays in Zen Buddhism, First Series, by D. T. Suzuki, first published in 1949. The following selected passages come from a liberal translation of a poem written by the Zen master Tao-hsin in the 6th century.
Inscribed on the Believing Mind-Heart
The Perfect way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preference:
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
To set up what you like against what you dislike—
The is the disease of the mind:
When the deep meaning of the Way is not understood
Peace of mind is disturbed and nothing is gained.
Pursue not the outer entanglements,
Dwell not in the inner void;
When the mind rests serene in the oneness of things,
The dualism vanished by itself.
Tarry not with dualism,
Carefully avoid pursuing it;
As soon as you have right and wrong,
Confusion ensues, the mind is lost.
The two exist because of the one,
But hold not even to this one;
When the one mind is not disturbed,
The ten thousand things offer no offence.
The Great Way is clam and large-minded,
Nothing is easy and nothing is hard:
Small views are irresolute,
The more in haste the tardier they go.
Clinging never keeps itself within bound,
It is sure to go in the wrong way:
Let go loose, and things are as they may bee,
While the essence neither departs nor abides.
Obey the nature of things, and you are n concord with the Way,
Calm and easy and free from annoyance;
But when your thoughts are tied, you turn away from the truth,
They grow heavier and duller and are not at all sound.
Gain and loss, right and wrong—
Away with them all.
In the higher realm of True Suchness
There is neither “other” nor “self”:
When a direct identification is asked for,
We can only say, ‘Not two.”
The infinitely small is large as large can be,
When external conditions are forgotten;
The infinitely large is as small as small can be,
When objective limits are put out of sight.
One in all,
All in one—
If only this is realized,
No more worry about your not being perfect!
No more worry about the world we live in not being perfect. When was it ever?
No more worry about Hillary losing and Trump winning, when viewing the world from the larger perspective. His presidency will last at most 8 years. In a thousand years what will it matter?
What matters now are creating minds and hearts free from hate, free from clinging, free from worry. When have these negatives ever helped us create a better world?
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be working as hard as we can to create that better world–however we may envision it. It’s just that so many who don’t envision it the way we do are working just as hard.
The trick is to work without attachment to the result. For attachment creates clinging, opposition, frustration, hate and war when things aren’t going our way. And when it is going our way, it creates smugness, complacency, and self-righteousness superiority. And then, after all our striving, the world will turn, and everything is upside-down again.
How to end this vicious circle? Only within our own minds and hearts. It’s the only place we can truly reign, the only place where the good fight can truly be won–not in the outside world.
Working toward our goals with true “oneness” in mind, seeing others as ourselves, as “not-two,” we help free the world just a little bit from the hate and fear and selfishness and greed that cause so much pain and suffering. And the more who do so, the wider the influence. But it starts with us, with the One. We are that one.
So why do I keep forgetting this over and over and over again?
Why do I strive and cling, and then rebel when things don’t go my way?
When will I ever let go and just be?
I woke this morning feeling as if I had been tossed from the real world into an alternate universe–where Trump had become president. I kept grasping for something that would allow me to return to that safer and saner world where Hillary had won.
How could a man who had said such vile things about women and immigrants, who had mocked the disabled, insulted POW war heroes, bashed Gold Star families, and belittled worthy adversaries become the leader of our nation and the free world?
How could the most qualified person ever to seek the presidential office, who had worked her whole life to help children, oppressed women, and working families, who would in turn break a long-standing ceiling to become the first woman to hold the highest office in our land–how could she lose to him?
I felt sure there must be another reality in which she had prevailed. So why had I and so many unwilling been tossed into this one? Was there something here I needed to learn?
So I grasped at straws, hoping this new reality under a Trump presidency wouldn’t be as bad as I feared.
Perhaps Trump the con artist, playing to the crowd all along, didn’t believe the worst of what he had said and would not pursue the worst of his claims. Perhaps now that he had won and didn’t have to fool anyone any more, his once liberal leanings would emerge–a way to pay back all the Republicans who hadn’t supported him or believed he could win.
Sadly, the belief that this all had been a scam to win the biggest ego prize ever was the only source of hope I could muster for a while. I just prayed that despite this he would keep his promise to help those who have felt left out of the American dream. I hoped he had enough integrity to do at least that much.
A faint hope, but it was all I had.
Until I heard Hillary’s concession speech. And then I cried tears of gratitude. I had never been so proud of her–and of us, as Americans–as I was then.
“We must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”
“Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power,” she added. “We don’t just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines the rule of law; the principle we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them.”
“This is painful, and it will be for a long time, but I want you to remember this: Our campaign was never about one person, or even one election. It was about the country we love.”
“To all the little girls watching this, never doubt that you are powerful and valuable and deserving of every chance in the world.”
“Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”
I knew then that hate hadn’t trumped love, as I had feared when I woke. Even in this seemingly alternate reality where Trump was president.
If this brave, strong, and loving woman could keep an open mind and look with hope and optimism to the future–despite her tremendous loss, then so could I.
Maybe that’s what I needed to learn.
Thank you, Hillary. I can feel my heart starting to heal already.