Life: Both/And

It is so easy to get sucked into despair. Read a newspaper or watch the news, or just chat casually with a friend or co-worker, and you're liable to come away with the sense that all is lost. Violence, rage, and just plain nastiness seem to be everywhere. The consequences of our environmental abuse grow stronger and more obvious each day. Even as we do our best to hold fast to our loved ones and build our communities, as we celebrate milestones like graduations and weddings, or go on picnics and take summer vacations, it can be hard to shake the feeling of doom and gloom.

Our brains are hardwired to look for potential threats; this is known as negativity bias. It protects us from predators, but it’s not meant to be turned on 24/7. Unfortunately, our stressful social norms tend to keep us on guard much of the time, unless we can unhook from this hypervigilance and learn to recognize when we are safe and our needs are being satisfied.

I find it essential to remember that life is a “both/and” proposition. Yes, we’re facing some truly urgent situations and need to take concrete action to stop the rise of fascism, white supremacy, religious fundamentalism, global climate degradation, and [insert your big worry here]. But also – and this is both true and comforting – right now people are doing amazing, heroic, loving things that need to be acknowledged. The following is a piece that was shared on Facebook last year, written by a shaman named Mary Standing Otter.  May it buoy your spirits and serve as a reminder that, in spite of all appearances, all is not lost. Balance is possible. Humans are capable of immense love and goodness. “We are all just walking each other home.” (Ram Dass)

Many hands reaching for a heart.

Many hands reaching for a heart.

Positive Someones

Right now there are Tibetan Buddhist monks in a temple in the Himalayas endlessly reciting mantras for the cessation of your suffering and for the flourishing of your happiness.

Someone you haven't met yet is already dreaming of adoring you.

Someone is writing a book that you will read in the next two years that will change how you look at life.

Nuns in the Alps are in endless vigil, praying for the Holy Spirit to alight the hearts of all of God's children.

A farmer is looking at his organic crops and whispering, "nourish them."

Someone wants to kiss you, to hold you, to make tea for you.

Someone is willing to lend you money, wants to know what your favorite food is, and treat you to a movie.

Someone in your orbit has something immensely valuable to give you — for free.

Something is being invented this year that will change how your generation lives, communicates, heals, and passes on.

The next great song is being rehearsed.

Thousands of people are in yoga classes right now intentionally sending light out from their heart chakras and wrapping it around the earth.

Millions of children are assuming that everything is amazing and will always be that way.

Someone is in profound pain, and a few months from now, they'll be thriving like never before. From where they are, they just can't see it .

Someone who is craving to be partnered, to be acknowledged, to arrive, will get precisely what they want — and even more. And because that gift will be so fantastical in its reach and sweetness, it will quite magically alter their memory of angsty longing and render it all "So worth the wait."

Someone has recently cracked open their joyous, genuine nature because they did the hard work of hauling years of oppression off of their psyche — this luminous juju is floating in the ether, and is accessible to you.

Someone just this second wished for world peace, in earnest.

Some civil servant is making sure that you get your mail, and your garbage is picked up, that the trains are running on time, and that you are generally safe.

Someone is dedicating their days to protecting your civil liberties and clean drinking water.

Someone is regaining their sanity.

Someone is coming back from the dead.

Someone is genuinely forgiving the seemingly unforgivable.

Someone is curing the incurable.

You. Me. Some. One. Now.