Delight in Being in the World
I've been ruminating on ways I can stay attentive without falling into desperate bouts of anxiety and depression. With the growing fallout of our election, I find myself alternating between vigilance and apathy. When I tune into the news, I am flooded with worry and an escalating sense of urgency to do something and to do more. I take small steps but quickly become overwhelmed by the growing number of issues in need of attention and internal conflict about where to donate my money and time. Am I doing enough? How much is enough? I retreat back into my small bubble, shutting out the external input and trying to reclaim my routines and creative flow. But I sense the shadow, the looming pressure and weight of the bigger picture. How can I go about my day with so much troubling news and struggle? Is there space for ease in all of the flux? I've been feeling unsteady, uncertain, unclear. I've been feeling stuck in despair.
This morning, I made myself get out and walk. Despite the gray sky and cold, I knew I needed to move. Everything seemed colorless, muted, uninspiring. But within fifteen minutes, the sun peeked through the blanketed sky, casting warm light across the frosted landscape. What had appeared as a matted mess of decomposing leaves, now sparkled and glimmered. I squatted and plucked a single leaf from the frozen cluster and held it up in the light. As if dusted with sea salt or dipped in sugar, its edges gleamed and I could see hints color beneath the delicate crystal layer. Along the rest of my walk, I couldn't help but notice how the landscape had shifted. It no longer seemed dull and lifeless. It glistened. As the morning warmed up and the frost faded, layers of beauty and decay surfaced. Raw. Vulnerable. Tender. Life. And I remembered what it feels like to slow down, to pause with wonder. I remembered why it matters to connect with the natural world. I remembered Mary Oliver's infamous poem, Wild Geesewith its invitation to love what we love and how theworld offers itself to our imagination. I remembered my place in the family of things.
I don't have quick answers to the larger questions about my direction or how to cultivate powerful change. I don't know the best way to channel my empathy or in what ways I will help mend the world. But, I think it has something to do with swinging back towards heart center and allowing curiosity and play to exists along with compassionate attention. I think it has something to do with zooming in so that I can expand out— staying present, pausing often, slowing down. I think it has something to do with holding gracious space for joy and wonder in order to bring equilibrium to individual and collective despair.
I don't want to hide or feel afraid of the world. There is no space in me for cynicism or defeat. Instead, I can move slowly when everything else feels as if it's moving at warp speed. I can notice and name what is working even when doubt suggests that nothing is. I can offer my way of being in the world— paying attention to subtle details, listening deeply and beyond the noise, knowing when to expand out and when to retreat. I can offer a refuge of healing and beauty, a respite from the louder side of life. And I can offer the invitation to love what we love and continue to delight in being in the world.