Category Archives: Current Events

Upside Down and Inside Out

As I attempt to walk on my own again, my country seeks security somewhere, anywhere. Neither of us is sure of how far to go, much less where.

Yet, it is not our uncertainty that is the problem. We are right where we need to be, “unfolding a new myth” (Rumi).

“Life always bursts the boundaries of formulas” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote in Flight to Arras, a novel about the French Resistance in World War II. We know the outcome of that resistance but its success was far from assured.

Yet defeat—death–was preferable to life lived within a formula. Life turns on a dime— it is impermanent–change turns us upside down, inside out. And if we are Aleppo, we are all but obliterated.

“Defeat may prove to have been the only path to resurrection, despite its ugliness.” That is the history of the human spirit, its rising from a story stuck in repeat. We don’t remember our history so we keep writing the same story.

But what if we strayed from that story? What if we accepted that life turns on a dime–always has, always will. We would walk where uncertainty leads. Would that not be the unfolding of a new myth?

Life always bursts the boundaries of formulas.

Defeat may prove to have been the only path to resurrection,

despite its ugliness. I take it for granted that to create a tree

I condemn a seed to rot. If the first act of resistance comes

too late it is doomed to defeat. But it is, nevertheless,

the awakening of resistance.

Life may grow from it as from a seed.

(Flight to Arras, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry )

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

More Than a Title

I once wrote a blog post entitled “Forgiveness Is More Than an Afterthought.” The title contained more substance than the post but it did offer a fine quotation:

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

These words are often attributed to Mark Twain or have been since the 1970s. There is no evidence he wrote or said them.  The sentence seems a compilation that crosses centuries.

Sometimes, words work their way out of one story and into the next anecdote until reduced to a single sentence. Words are like that, aren’t they?

They come together in ways we least expect or even hope, especially when we are careless with them. We forget they will come back to us or we hope they don’t. It is only when we are “impeccable with our word” are less violets crushed (Don Miguel Ruiz).

With forgiveness, debt is involved, and it includes all parties. I never really thought about debt and forgiveness until I read a story of a mother forgiving her daughter’s killer.

Over and over she told herself that she must be able to forgive the debt; forgiveness was not complete, however, until the man who killed her daughter no longer felt the debt, either. Only then was the fragrance released.

Few will ever know this mother’s love and strength. I will not but I carry her story with me as a reminder forgiveness is only possible when no one holds onto it.

M. L. Stedman wrote that “You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day.” It is a heavy load, this debt. Only when resentment and regret are crushed does the violet give its last breath.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

A Congress of Old–and Getting Older–White Men

This morning, I “celebrate” the latest GOP idea about healthcare with gluten-free, chocolate chip cookies dipped in unsweetened almond milk. Yes, I know. It is this kind of decision-making and behavior that leads to pre-existing conditions.

Gluten-free or no, what is involved here is sugar, even in unsweetened almond milk, which also contains very few almonds. I just like how it tastes. It is this lack of judgment that has characterized my life. And that is an unforgivable pre-existing condition.

So be it. As a Facebook friend pointed out, being a woman is considered a pre-existing condition by most of the old–and getting older–white men in our current Congress.

Mysteriously, male members have no pre-existing conditions or if they do, those conditions are covered. Just to be safe, Congress has excluded its healthcare system from its citizens.

How can one group of pre-existing conditions be acceptable and another not? That is such dangerous thinking. Human beings evolve. That is the life experience; it is why we are here.

We make disastrous choices–witness our current Congress–then, we learn, often soaring above original intention but not always, witness our current Congress.

If I had consumed less sugar and fewer grains, including gluten-free, would I not have a pre-existing condition? How could that ever be known? There are too many variables. It can be surmised, suggested but it cannot be known absolutely.

Medicine is a science and it evolves. As it learns, it changes. What was once an accepted practice is sometimes discarded altogether. “When we know better, we do better” (Maya Angelou).

It concerns me to come across conversations about pre-existing conditions that carry fault versus those that do not. It is buying into the mindset of exclusion, witness our current Congress. It is a scramble to safety not designed for everyone.

We do not come from the same mold nor should we. We are not here to be clones of one another. We are one for all and all for one.

Human beings need loyalty. It does not necessarily

produce happiness, and can even be painful, but we all require

devotion to something more than

ourselves for our lives to be endurable.

Atul Gawande

Be careful what you wish, old–and getting older–white men.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

A Brief, Shining Moment

This morning, I was going to write all around my heart but that’s no good. Why look for words that no longer work? When life is hard, as it is in this moment, it is tempting to detach but I no longer live that way.

If I did, I would miss the lights of life so bright they can only be brief. Life is impermanent, not easy.

Some months ago I joined a group to do some good, and we are. However, the social media world is awhirl with cyber bullying and stalking. We are not immune nor was the light that brought us together. It must shine elsewhere, now.

Only to the extent that we expose ourselves

over and over to annihilation

can that which is indestructible

be found in us.

Pema Chodron in When Things Fall Apart

I know I must strip away the pain and go to the core of myself, having nothing to hold onto except who and what I am. In such moments, my flaws loom larger than ever, fed by fear. Like everyone else, I am neither all good nor all bad all the time.

In any moment, I’m somewhere on that spectrum—seeking a sliver of light or immersing myself in its brightness. Balance is available in either but no light ever stays.

Maybe that’s what life is, a collection of brief, shining moments, and upon our death, they light our leaving.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

In Science There is No Silence

It is an ego kind of day, if I am not careful. Oh, I know there is no satisfying the ego for when I follow its urging, our travels never end but we don’t get anywhere, either.

Meditation has taught me to keep the ego’s chatter in the background rather than front and center. This is particularly helpful on days when words are few but thoughts are one spring canvas after another.

So much possibility, spring–the earth coming into being yet again–but my concern for the planet clouds my celebration. It is not yet Rachel Carson’s “silent spring” but I cannot let my ego lull me into a false one, either.

Now, science is under threat of silence. Without science, a silent spring is assured and for some species already accomplished. That’s discomfiting, and my ego almost goes silent.

I’m not sure we are here to be comfortable, not always, anyway. I know we are here to experience what it is to be human– self-aware, yes–as well, in awe of our place on this planet.

So often, we treat ourselves and our world as if they are not fragile. Each is capable of being lost forever.

Science asks questions, and the longer I live, the more convinced I am that to live is to question. Answers come and go but questions return time and again from different paths. Just because we are familiar with a question does not mean it is asking what it once did.

My ego does not appreciate such subtlety; it seeks the ever-elusive satisfaction and even promises such if I will just….

I will explore the cascade of spring that is in this day, for it is the moment I have but I am mindful of my place on this planet. Mary Oliver said “attention is the beginning of devotion.”

And so it is. In raised voice, may we devote ourselves to science. For if we do not, silent spring is assured.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

The Seemingly “Stupid and Non-discriminative”

The sage has the sun and the moon by his side. He grasps the universe under his arm. He blends everything into a harmonious whole, casts aside whatever is confused or obscured, and regards the humble as honorable. While the multitude toil, he seems to be stupid and non-discriminative. He blends the disparities of ten thousand years into one complete purity. All things are blended like this and mutually involve each other. (Chuang Tzu)

The sage always seems to know but I no longer think that is the point of Taoist texts. However, I am not a scholar nor do I aspire to such. Like the sage, I’m a human being experiencing existence.

And I, too, live in a time of “Warring States,” like 4th century BC China. I remind myself to look through the eyes of Chuang Tzu as best I am able. Not all warring states are equal but they involve humans so there are similarities.

Of course, I want to “grasp the universe under my arm” for how else harmony? Rather than separating one warring state from another, I want to blend the “disparities of 10,000 years into one complete purity.”

It means having the “sun and moon by my side,” the day and night that would seemingly tear each other apart if one did not give way to the other–but they always do. They know they do not exist except with each other.

And as I read the Chuang Tzu text, my world seems so similar. Yet, our capacity for warring is so great, we are able to destroy the planet many times over.

Yesterday, the United States put the planet on notice by rolling back climate change regulations. Today, it is the UK leaving the European Union.

It is a clinging to what separates rather than a blending of disparities.

If there are generations to follow, how will they view this century of warring states?

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Scrolling Screens By Night

Today’s #LongView post, Always a Nasty Woman, is a bit about citizenship–what it means to live in a republic. It’s a lifetime responsibility. The Nasty Women Project brought out the activist in me.  Too long had I been complacent.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.