Is hope possible?
2018 saw massive upheaval.
We stood on shifting sands.
We burned alive, trying to escape.
The survivors breathed in and choked on our remains.
The monstrous, racist head of nationalism rose up the world over.
And in this precious moment, hundreds of thousands face starvation in Yemen.
I ask myself what it means to be hopeful when year over year I find my heart aching.
Uncertainty certainly appears to be the new normal.
We swim in it, raise babies in it. Try our best to mold ourselves into its always shifting, unshaped form.
Unfortunately it’s our psyches – individual and collective – which pay the toll for all of this volatility. The delicate inner workings of our very essence are on the line, and on the hook.
How do we – and we must – continue to show up, continue to do our work, continue to reach, to grow, and to build? ___Relationships, trust, self.
All of it needing tending. All of it asking softly (and sometimes not) for a little of our precious attention. And often demanding action on our part.
I find a bit of solace in these words by Rebecca Solnit on hope:
Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes — you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others.
Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting.
It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.
Yes, it’s been a fiery year. It hasn’t necessarily been comfortable or easy. It hasn’t always been difficult, either.
It’s helpful for me to remember that good comes through flames, not only destruction. The inferno purifies. The phoenix rises. Even the giant Sequoia needs a flame to seed new life.
And so here we are, still standing. And with that comes the opportunity to seed our lives anew. Each new day, new week, new month, new year.
As this year closes, I ask myself: What do I stand for? What action, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can I muster the courage to take today? How can I be a voice or an agent for love, for charity, for grace? What am I contributing to the field?
Dear ones, we are entering the final year of this decade. By all accounts, it appears uncertainty and volatility will continue.
(Certainty, in fact, is a perception rather than a de facto state of existence.)
Ahead of us lies the formless, inky blackness of that which is not yet written.
My hope is that you will find the resilience, the fortitude, and the will to be a beacon of stability and a purveyor of possibility as our ship continues on its choppy course. Now more than ever, your light, the indefatigable core of your being, is needed.
So rise up! Shine brightly into the inky blackness. No matter how rough the ride ahead may be.
Love with all you have. Love as though your life depends on it.
And here’s my 2019 Trial by Fire Resilience Kit (to be used liberally!):
Practice a short Metta (lovingkindness) meditation each day. (Insight Timer is great for this.)
Practice gratitude. Making note of just three things for which you can be grateful each morning or evening will shift your attention to what is good and affirming in your life.
Do one nice thing for another person each day, even if all you have to offer is a smile.
Nourish your relationships.
Take good, loving care of the needs of your inner world.
Use adaptogenic herbs like ginseng, rhodiola, eleuthero, schisandra, and holy basil to support your system during times of stress, change, or uncertainty.
Go for a walk in the forest.