A friend recently asked me:
How do you stay sane with all of the chaos happening in our world today? What keeps your hope alive that it’s worth pressing on despite so much darkness?
I do absolutely recognize that we are in a time of great difficulty. But the thing is this: we in our western culture struggle deeply with the concept of destructive forces.
In both indigenous and Buddhist traditions (which heavily influenced my upbringing), this energy is simply considered part of the life cycle. Trees lose their dying leaves in the autumn. From the outside, transformation always looks like complete and utter destruction. A seed sprouting looks like an explosion. The caterpillar inside a chrysalis liquefies before reconstructing as a butterfly.
It is this resistance to death and destruction that amplifies suffering. The greater destructive forces I experience, the more lightly I learn to feel the things. To clarify: it’s not that I go numb or bury my head in the sand ... no, it’s more that I recognize the myth we are living in. I feel all the things, but without grasping deeply or committing fully to the reality of a given moment (because life is ever-changing).
I keep my eyes open and see what is happening around me, and at the same time I recognize that there are always more perspectives or dimensions to reality than I may be perceiving in this moment.
There is a poem by Aldous Huxley that I love and frequently re-read in times of difficulty:
“It’s dark because you are trying too hard.
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.
I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig.
Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me.
When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic.
No rhetoric, no tremolos,
no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell.
And of course, no theology, no metaphysics.
Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light.
So throw away your baggage and go forward.
There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet,
trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair.
That’s why you must walk so lightly.
Lightly my darling,
on tiptoes and no luggage,
not even a sponge bag,
Destruction and darkness are a powerful part of the cycle. The only way through is through. This too shall pass.
My friend went on to ask, Where do you see the world in 5, 10, 20 years?
My answer is: I have no idea. But the thing is: I don’t need to know.
I used to feel overwhelmingly anxious about the future, like I needed to know what’s next. But a powerful awareness shifted my perspective:
I don’t need to know what’s coming. I need only to recognize that I am capable of handling whatever insanity life throws my way.
Reflect on all the difficulty you’ve come through in your life. No matter what it was, no matter how bad or hard or painful it was ... you are still here. YOU ARE CAPABLE.
So when I lean into the deep knowing that I AM CAPABLE of handling whatever comes my way, I have less need to know what all of those events or situations will be.
Even on my darkest of days, I can always remember: nothing is static. Feel lightly even while I feel deeply. I am capable.
And most importantly: I consistently and persistently connect with others who share my perspective of reality, who will remind me of these truths, and with whom I can share hugs and tears and feeling all the things while ALSO acknowledging that we are connected and that the default of the universe is light and love, and everything is going to work out.
Open eyes. Clear minds. Connected hearts.
All my love,