Rise and fall and rise and fall……
Fall and rise again.
These conflicting words might describe my response to our national and international moment. Oh, you guys! I have withstood the urge to write about the news of day too specifically these past weeks. I do attempt weekly to make subtle references to, rather than dropping us down into the existing morass of negativity, inequity and injustice.
Today I was driving around Berkshire County (my current pastime), pondering the influences on my perspective.
How have I become who I am?
Why do I see the world as I do?
I had an interesting conversation with myself.
There are two major perspectives from which I operate, I do believe.
First, I must admit, I am a recovering hippy. I am a child of the ‘60’s. Even though I was a nice Jewish girl in college, smoking pot and tripping out on Shakespeare, I always will be profoundly and indelibly stamped by the social protests of my era. Peter, Paul and Mary were the soundtrack to my thinking. I am a product of the Summer of Love, even though I participated in it from afar.
From very afar.
I believe that highest will indeed unfold.
My life choices can track this perspective.
I joined the Peace Corps.
I worked in an inner-city high school for almost two decades.
I joined an ashram.
I chose mindfulness as my career.
I am still easily lured by the seduction of magical thinking.
Speaking of magical thinking, well, inspirational and heart-centered thinking, I stumbled upon Rumi’s remarkable verse a few months ago. Do you know this one?
In your favor
And I believe this! I believe that life attends to us, that we are served the circumstances, the people/places/and/things that we need to evolve. Even and especially the things that suck, even and especially the heartbreaks, the trauma, the emptiness—if attended to, from these gashes in our lives, more grace will emerge.
I believe this stuff, you guys, I do!
I believe that the human spirit ultimately will follow Martin Luther King’s long arc of justice, that goodness will prevail.
And—now, let us land realistically in Autumn, 2018, a very non-Autumn of Love.
It does feel as if the bad guys have momentarily won.
Enter Influence Number Two—the voice of my Cynical Inner Addict.
I’m an addict. I know, at the same time as the internal peace/flowers/freedom/happiness voice is singing Puff the Magic Dragon, I know that I am screwed.
That we are all so very screwed.
The news supports this grim proclamation.
Day after day, in arena after arena, the evidence is in:
We are oh, so very screwed.
I think of the brilliant, remarkable song by Leonard Cohen. Called “a cynical masterpiece”, here’s Leonard’s extraordinary, Everybody Knows. This version, from his live Dublin concert, is startling and brilliant.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost.”
This song was written in 1988. Leonard Cohen died November 7, 2016, coincidently, the day of the presidential election; he chose to leave, smart man.
Yet the question lingers; how do we balance between the influences, the pulls? How do we flow between the hopes and the fears, the positive and the cynical, the reality and the possibility?
Amrit Desai, our former Kripalu guru, used to talk about life as a yo-yo; up and down we go, believing this, no, believing that. His pitch for spiritual practice was to create a place of neutrality, a tethered place of balance, between the extremes. The Buddhists might call that the middle road; I might call it fleeting, mere moments of sanity.
To create a place of homecoming, a place in which we return, this is the work of spiritual activism. To be centered in the middle of, to find the sweet spot between the extremes, and to land there, as best we can, as consistently as we can.
I find that place with Zac, my own personal Rimpoche disguised as a dog. I find his depth and stillness and playfulness the doorway back to center, to quiet, to sanity.
I find that place when I walk; nature, in all her transition, in all her consistent inconsistency, a stunning and riveting physical return to center for me.
I find that place in prayer, in movement, in a Twelve Step meeting.
I find that place.
I need that place.
We are that place—we simply need to remember, to return home to who we really are, to that place of stillness that exists within the great unraveling, that place of silence at the still center of chaos.
Just a few minutes a day, greet yourself, visit yourself, rest in the arms of your self.
And then, go back out there.
What perspectives influence you? How do you renew, remember, return to yourself? Please keep me posted. Your emails light up my day. I