Tag Archives: Activism

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.

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.

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.

 

Once in A While a Protest Post

Something there is that does not love a wall…” (Robert Frost).

No, not the wall specifically but all walls–any walls–put up under the mistaken belief that in isolation, life thrives. How can it? It exhausts its limited resources.

When we wall out what is on the other side, we lull ourselves into a false sense of security. We become self-righteous. Our way is the only way. There is no one way for everyone but for each of us there is a way.

No one label completely identifies who we are. We are walking contradictions, unique expressions of nature’s intentions. Nature cycles in seasons. No wall will hold it.

Something there is that does not love a wall….”

Impermanence. No matter what side of the wall you and I live, the reigning administration is just happy the wall exists. And intends to keep it that way. Both sides have nostalgic fondness for a life that is gone. Why? No one and no one thing ever stays.

It is a painful loss, the life I think I had. Perhaps for you, too. If I look closely, I find complacency, privilege, and a lot more. I did nothing while the wall went up–maybe you did–I did not look so it did not exist.

My Zen reminds me daily, sometimes hourly: don’t attach to the pain of loss or you’ll get stuck in its drama. But late at night, scrolling through social media, I want my say.

But more than my snark, I want my country–again–what is left of it. There is a sliver of light in #TheResistance if both sides pull down the wall together. And that is a big if.

We must lay down our labels—put country above party—to effectively pressure Congress and the administration. And we are; it is hard work. We are Americans, not sunshine patriots.

“Something there is that does not love a wall….”

So, now in my late-night scrolling through social media I aspire to Robert Frost’s “The Mending Wall.”

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.

Mirror the apple orchard and pine forest who grow side-by-side, their purpose to drop their seeds for future generations— theirs a life larger than their own.

It’s simply good manners, this reverence for life. Before you laugh me away remember reverence is innate in nature. Only we must keep re-learning.

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.

It’s Not About Saving the World

A lot of people turn away from activism because who can save the world, anyway? Maybe the better question is who would even want to try? I’m not sure activism has ever been about saving anyone or anything.

What seems more likely is that effecting change is equated with saving or being saved, especially in times like these. Yet, life is and always has been impermanent so change is our one constant. There is no saving from that.

We don’t set out to save the world; we set out to wonder

how other people are doing and to reflect on how

our actions affect other people’s hearts.

 Pema Chödrön

Every morning before I begin my yoga practice, I pause. I pray that I meet each moment with compassion, joy, loving-kindness, and equanimity in all things, in all ways. I open myself.

On so many days—sometimes in a seemingly long succession—I am so unsuccessful but in failure, I return to my breath. Once again, I open myself to the moment, in search of hearts.

new-year-2017

I do not have to have anything in common with another’s heart but it is easier if I do. Even so, I struggle not to offer answers but sometimes, my head seizes the moment, and I fall into world-saving.

This can have quite the boomerang effect, especially if I have been clever at another’s expense.  And it will return to me, this boomerang, often on a day when I am already low.

Less and less do I even think of world saving. It takes too much energy, something of which I have in short supply. In the least, it seems a lesson in futility.

Rather, I open myself to each moment that is offered, wondering how other people are and how my action may affect a heart. It lifts me, this reflection, and keeps me clear-eyed.

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.

Every Day is a Protest

To have peace, you can begin

by walking peacefully.

Everything depends on your steps.

(Thich Nhat Hanh)

I miss writing a weekly letter to my mother for many reasons. When I wrote to her, I walked peacefully. How much or how little I wrote were the colors of her world.

I like to think we both appreciated that world as a place where we could sit and pause, away from the reality that marked our everyday lives.

In our bubble, the unexpected played a lesser role for it was only revealed as an afterward and never in the now.  Such is the life of a bubble, brief but shiny.

pine1

 

I have lived in more than one bubble. And I am not alone in this. Like so many, I walked away from the everyday, seeking peace where it never is. In ignorance, I trampled on the life I have.

Yet, time has not yet run out but it grows short for all of us. Our planet is out of balance, tipping one way and then the other. The unexpected comes in daily doses.

Every day seems a protest because it is. A wake-up call to walk peacefully, to remember everything depends upon our steps.

Everything.

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.