We try to write from the heart by looking at our relationship and asking how we have been this past week, and out of that arises a facet of how we are that becomes a blog post, but in this past six months, the fires, floods, politics and pandemic have so changed our lives that we have to include them in how we have been.
For me, Phil, I have given myself over to it. The world has changed and will not be changing back to the way it was. Perhaps it was an Eden then, perhaps I forget many of the struggles. Whatever, I am trying to take comfort from the view that great changes are happening, and to be entertained, not horrified. I try to be aware of the moment. I will have breakfast soon, granola and yogurt; we’re out of berries, but raisins will do. Aren’t I lucky?
I have long been concerned about how our environment is being progressively impoverished. A year or so back, I read a long piece listing the many impending collapses and the author’s response of grief. Grief. She named the feeling for me, and I have been living it ever since. A drive in the country will evoke it by reminding me how fragile the landscape is.
I grew up in the shadow of grief – I don’t want to tell the story now – and have spent a lifetime avoiding its consequences. In telling this to Maude early in our relationship, she said that grief could only arise from great love, and I was illuminated. The other side was opened up for me.
The most important part of our world is the network of relationships #relationships #quote Click To TweetNow grief is here again, and I deal with it in several ways. One is to take action, whether recycling, giving money, writing, or making a video about the state of politics. Another is to change the timescale through which I look at things. In a hundred or 10,000 or a million years, the events of today will be no more than the texture in the cloth of life.
Then there is being present, which is viewing the timescale in completely the opposite direction. You’ve all heard the mantra of Be Here Now so many times, I’m sure you can recite it back to me. Let me offer a different take. We, life, existed for billions of years without speaking. Around 100,000 years ago, the forebrain developed language, which became a powerful tool for how to understand and manage the world, and now thoughts and words are indistinguishable. But the older, preverbal way of understanding the world still exists within us, and being present allows that into our consciousness, although by definition, we cannot speak about it.
I wrote an 8-part commentary on sitting meditation that starts by describing it like an onion. The outer layers are our thoughts; below them are our emotions, and below them is simply being. Sitting is an aid to getting in touch with a different way of relating to the world, the earlier way that existed before language.
I have been telling all this from a solo perspective, but the last, and most important part of my world, is that I am surrounded by people. (Most connections are virtual these days for obvious reasons, but they still work the same way.) They affirm that I am not alone in the world, that they are not me but are like me.
We have this deep need for connection. We measure who we are by how others see us. We act to fit in as much as we act to stand out. We live in a space halfway between the individual and the group. We want to be unique and we want to belong, to subsume ourselves in the larger group, to feel connected, to lose ourselves for a greater good. We find who we are within and we find what we are in our family, our town, our career, our country, our humanity. This is how we love.
Next week, Maude will share her perspective.
Photo Credit: Maude Mayes