<written July 21/17>
I was listening while driving up to Algonquin Park for a short camping escape from “The Big Smoke” (a nickname some of us use for the city of Toronto).
Earlier in the week I’d had one of those old farmer & horse & son & soldiers’ Buddhist (or Taoist) story experiences.
You know, left my car at the place to get work done on it, discovered halfway home on foot/TTC that I’d left my apartment keys in the car ignition
Bleah bleah bleah, too long to go into it all…
Point being, at first it seemed “bad” ... but then, some cool, unexpected bonus “happy accidents” happened as a result, & it seemed “good,” & ultimately it’s all a “Hmmmmm, we’ll see! Such-and-such happened. Good? Bad? Who knows? On we go…” kind of a deal.
“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.” (Cormac McCarthy, Nonconformist Hall of Famer)
We are very fallible, we human beans. We always seem to have to judge things. Explain things. Control things. (Ha! As if!)
“We are not lacking in the dynamic forces needed to create the future. We live immersed in a sea of energy beyond all comprehension. But this energy, in an ultimate sense, is ours not by domination but by invocation.” (Thomas Berry in The Great Work – Our Way into the Future)
It all seems timely to me, contemplating this happy accidents business, the state of the world being what it is, & all.
Climate change is galloping along at a truly sobering pace, now
- Heat waves
- Crop failures
- Forest fires
- Methane bursts
& the “people in charge” are damn scary.
Whoa. Getting scarier & scarier by the minute, I’ll warrant.
"I start from the supposition that the world is topsy-turvy, that things are all wrong, that the wrong people are in jail and the wrong people are out of jail, that the wrong people are in power and the wrong people are out of power, that the wealth is distributed in this country and the world in such a way as not simply to require small reform but to require a drastic reallocation of wealth.” (Howard Zinn, found here with some other gems)
It’s easy to be afraid – to feel fear about “what is coming” – & sometimes I am, & do.
It’s easy to be angry about the horrendous cock-up we human beings have made/are making on this beautiful planet (I’ve certainly spent plenty of time angry, over the decades).
It’s reasonable to go in & out of grief over the state of things (& I do, & shed tears of grief, anger and frustration from time to time).
To me, the facts seem very plain.
Our species is heading for a very unforgiving brick wall at a speed so great the momentum cannot be stopped.
# It’s. Too. Late.
How to go on, in the face of this?
Well, what if we were to consider that our tenure here is also a “happy accident” – and say, “Whoa! Has it ever been a slice!”
- An honour
- A privilege
- A gift
- A blessing (well, to us humans, anyway)
“Just to live is holy.
To be is a blessing.” (Rabbi Abraham Heschel)
Clearly, we are an intelligent species (though this point is somewhat debatable) on a minor (extraordinarily beautiful, bountiful) planet, in a vast galaxy & Universe …
A tiny mote of dust (stardust, mind you!)
“Stop acting so small. You are the Universe in ecstatic motion.” (sign spotted on church billboard)
“Always keep 2 pieces of paper in your pockets. One says, “I am a speck of dust;” the other, “The world was created for me.” (Rabbi Bunim)
… in a vast Universe we cannot possibly begin to grasp, understand or explain
& certainly our misguided efforts to “control” the show
“Energy always flows either toward hope, community, love, generosity, mutual recognition, and spiritual aliveness or it flows toward despair, cynicism, fear that there is not enough, paranoia about the intentions of others, and a desire to control.” (Michael Lerner, quoted in The Great Turning – From Empire to Earth Community, by David Korten)
have led to many an Unintended Consequence … hmmmm?
(sardonic chuckle off-stage here)
Very likely we are ourselves a “happy accident”
Interesting musing on “intelligent design” from Douglas Adams: “This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.”
“Happy” … well, at least to ourselves, if not, perhaps, to the natural world & its myriad other inhabitants/species – upon whom we have waged continual warfare, now, for some millennia.
Might be good to get a grip on noticing how stunning & amazing & wonderful it all is – while we still can!
#While We Are Still Here
As Pema Chödrön has said
“It seems we all have the tendency to move away from the present moment. It’s as if this habit is built into our DNA.”
She has also said:
Seems like some of us might try a little harder to fully inhabit THIS moment (especially considering it’s the only one we really can inhabit, as far as that goes, hmmm?)
It seems likely our species doesn’t have much of a “future” to speak of.
So why not get our feet firmly planted here, now?
& celebrate life/Life
Right here & right now?
“Love life. Take great pleasure in small offerings. Believe that the world owes you nothing. Understand that every gift given to you is just that.” (Maya Angelou)
I think it makes our lives more pleasant (rich-feeling, even) if we occupy ourselves in activities that seem meaningful & satisfying.
“Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich. (Sarah Bernhardt, actress who lived 1844-1923)
One’s own sanity can definitely be greatly enhanced with an emphasis on a daily gratitude habit
Tough Times Ahead?
Pretty sure Tough Times are a’comin. (Well, they’re already here, people: we’re smack in the middle of them, & it’s ramping up by the day…)
End Time for our species, very likely (& not as far down the road as most people I talk to seem to think; I realize that’s just people’s “wishful thinking” at work…)
- climate = broken (just look out the window!)
- growing food = need for reasonable growing conditions
- climate broken > growing conditions gone = no food
- no food = people can’t eat
- People can’t eat? People die
- Note: this is not even to mention the state of the water, the air, the food: all very toxic, hmmm?; or the risk of nuclear annihilation at the hands of our insane “leaders”
It may not be pretty.
Who can say?
(We do know it is quite un-pretty in many locales, already, hmmm?)
But there’s not much point in fearing What Is Coming either by turning ourselves into pretzels of nerves & fear & dread – or by deluding ourselves that Things Will Miraculously Return to Normal.
“Normal” went extinct some time back, Humans. We all know this…
If you knew your days were numbered (terminal cancer diagnosis, say?) what would seem most important to you?
You might start noticing with greater frequency what an amazing trip Life is!
It’s not a right! It’s a privilege.
“We are privileged, and the duty of privilege is absolute integrity.” (John O’Donohue, Irish poet, philosopher and former priest)
Okay okay. Time for me to get down off this preachy soapbox.
There’s a stunningly beautiful day happening all around me. I’m sitting in a screened bug tent across the water from the beautiful little island pictured at the top of my blog
& I think I feel a swim coming on.
I know all too well not all human beings on the planet have a life as richly, wonderfully blessed as mine. I "get" that life is a privilege - my own, especially so.
I do try to contribute to the world in meaningful ways.
Please... let's all give thanks for all our blessings, & be good to one another.
“In helping others we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” (Flora Edwards)
“A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.” (Henrik Ibsen)
.... while we are still here.
(Hey … we'll be a long time dead.)
p.s. couple quotes of my own I find helpful, & a mantra I repeat often:
“Cut your losses. Go where the energy is.”
“Stay on the path. Don’t look down.”
“I don’t have to figure that out right now.”
and a quotation I find really helpful...
"4 Rules for Life
- Show up.
- Pay attention.
- Tell the truth.
- Don’t be attached to the results." (Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940 – )
p.p.s. 2 days later, back in the bug (i.e. no-bug) tent.
A thought about how we humans have this way of assuming things will stay “the same.”
Our relationships will keep on ticking.
Human culture & society will last
& keep on “improving”
(Ain’t technology just great??)
- Me the other day: leaving Toronto in fiercely hot, humid weather, assuming that that weather would hold for days. It hasn’t rained … so it won’t. (but it didn’t stay the same – even all the way to the Park!)
- So-and-so will always be a jerk (well, & he very likely will ... but you never know eh??).
But things change. They’re changing all the darn time! We are changing all the darn time.
Relationships founder & come to an end.
Kids grow up. We get old/older. Old, even…
We are, in fact, always adapting & changing to circumstances in our lives, & in the world at large. ‘cos the circumstances are always changing!
We seem to have evolved as critters that don’t observe the water heating up around us (as it were). The water heats to boiling, the frog cooks. That’s us. (We’re a-cookin’ alright.)
I maintain, though, that we are far more adaptable, far more capable of change (& making changes) than we give ourselves credit for. (Not on the species level, mind you ... but on the individual.)
- We can adopt "better" habits
- Move (even “later in life”) & make new friends, a new life
- Adapt to a crazily-changing world. Even one we're pretty sure is coming soon(ish) to an end
- Drop/lose some of our fears (amazing what an occasional “stern chat” with yourself can achieve!! I could bore you with a couple of the ones I’ve had with myself, over the years, that led to real change. But I’ll spare you. You alone know what kind of stern chat you may need to have with yourself…)
- Become more patient
- More compassionate
- Less rigid
- Less controlling
- Learn to “go with the flow” more
- Face adversity
- Learn courage.
We do not live in fixed, dry concrete, Humans. We can actually change … more than we think!
“I overcame myself, the sufferer; I carried my own ashes to the mountains; I invented a brighter flame for myself.” (Friedrich Nietzsche)
What a helluva time on Planet Earth to test this out…. eh?? :) :) :) :)
“I can say that it is time now to play ‘the end of the world’ symphony. I don’t know what instrument you hold, but you need to play it as best as you can, & find your place in the score. You don’t have to play a solo here. But this is our task now.” – Dr. Sandra Steingraber, in a 2013 interview with Bill Moyers