Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sifting Through the Rubble



Lately, I've been sifting through the rubble of what was my former optimistic self, trying to figure out what to make of what I'm filled with since the election, which is mostly this: pain and suffering and despair.

Pain is real, and should be acknowledged. Pain tells me to pull my hand out of the fire. Pain tells me to do something...NOW. Pain should be acted upon.

Suffering is self-created: a choice. Suffering happens when I resist what is. Suffering isn't noble. It doesn’t help me, and it doesn’t help anyone around me. Suffering keeps me trapped in pain.
 
Despair is when I search outside myself for hope and, finding none, I believe that hope doesn't exist. Despair isn't real.

So here's what I make of these messy emotions: We are entering a dark era. The only way I get through this is to ditch the suffering and despair, and act on the pain. I can't look for someone else to save me. I've got to find hope inside of myself first, and let it build. I have to connect to every other flicker of hope I find, and create networks of hope. I have to appreciate every tiny beautiful moment; a cat sleeping in my lap, a kind word from a stranger, an extraordinary sunset...and let those tiny moments carry me until the rest of the world reflects light again.


The light will return. Maybe not now, maybe not soon...but it will return. That much I know.
It returns, because we create it. 

DARKNESS DEFINES THE LIGHT


“Darkness defines the light.” That’s what my yoga/meditation teacher Kristen Eykel said, as we engaged in a deep discussion after a group meditation this morning. The darkness that is sweeping the country and the world right now is defining a message for us: RISE.

I woke up today, like every day since the election, with a feeling of dread in my stomach. I've been miserable and short-tempered, and not much fun to live with, even though i meditate and do yoga and I try, really try, to be positive. But today, I think I finally figured out why I can't shake this awful feeling; I am changing. Life is changing me and change is fucking painful -- it just is. I wrote about this in Fire Season. When a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, it's an ugly affair. Before the butterfly can form, the caterpillar must first completely liquefy inside the chrysalis, becoming what my friend Lyena Strelkoff termed "caterpillar soup." So maybe that's where a lot of us are at right now. We are lying on the floor in a puddle, beat down by life, caterpillar soup -- and that's okay. It's a stage, a step on the ladder of metamorphosis. 

My brilliant friend Lyena had this to say on the subject, "The only way to become more than we were (plus it's the fastest way out of the soup) is to surrender to dissolving. The more we deny how we feel, the more we try to run away from it, cover it up, try to shove ourselves prematurely out of the chrysalis with inauthentic gratitude or positivity, the longer the process will take and the more likely we'll get stuck there. 'Who am I willing to become?' --that's the only question I have to ask. And then let the process of becoming take its (uncomfortable, miserable at times) course. Adversity sucks. But adversity of any kind, personal, professional, communal, global, is always presenting us with the opportunity to become more than we've ever been. The thing is, we have to say yes. And if we don't, then adversity only sucks."

If there’s any silver lining behind these shitstorm clouds, it’s that people are beginning to wake up and answer the call of their higher selves. Human rights, equality, and basic goodness are not granted to us. We are the ones who work to make these things a reality. So how do we do it while the bad news is pummeling us, daily? There is so much: the environment, women's health, defending the marginalized, protecting journalism and the truth. Each of has to decide what our personal activism will be, and then take action. Some of us are warriors who will march, some of us are surgeons who will actively cut the cancer out of this country through legislation, some of us are seamstresses who will stitch the fabric of our society back together, some of us are wordsmiths who will renew the troops with hope and direction, some of us are healers who will hold up the wounded. We all have a role. 

And when we finally pull ourselves out of the soup, when we finally rise, we have to become more than we ever knew we could be. We have to look ourselves in the mirror and say, "I am willing to step into my full potential and own my power."  We have to shine brighter, be bigger, be more than we were before. What other choice is there?

 One thing is certain: the time for hand-wringing is over. All hands on deck. 
 RISE.