Once upon a time, I had a tiny perfect life, one I unconsciously assumed would last forever. We would go on with our tiny perfect life, & all would be well, & we would live happily ever after.
Oops. Oops, oops, oops. This, of course, did NOT come to pass.
Things got messy – very, very messy – because after all, life is messy, isn’t it???
Gone are the days of the nice, well-kept house & me as tiny, perfect wife & mother (of course I was never actually tiny or perfect) with my tiny, perfect, predictable life. (This was all the merest illusion, of course, but of course I didn’t know that then.)
Life got messy. Divorce happened, & a joint custody arrangement – 2 things that have forever irrevocably altered my relationships with my children. No getting around that…
Off down a wildly unpredicted (& unpredictable) path went I, with much tripping & falling & flying over & sometimes into abysses – accompanied by considerable joy & spirit-soaring & triumph, even (but let’s be honest – lots of loneliness, too) – with all along the way, many, many, many lotus flowers growing out of the plentiful, plentiful mud.
New friendships, adventure galore, relationships – JOY!! The locating of a tribe to which I now happily belong – the tribe of activists – people who are active, people who CARE, are open to change & growth, who dedicate their time & energy & lives to making the world a better, safer, saner place.
You know that “Zen poem,” the one that goes like this?
“A man travelling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge.
The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.
Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man then saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other.
How sweet it tasted.”
“Tigers above, tigers below,” as Pema Chödrön puts it.
We live, we all live, we are all poised, with tigers above, tigers below.
We must seize joy – our precious moments of pleasure & exaltation – from the jaws of the tiger.
I do this. I even do it rather well, I think.
Sometimes, though, I fall down on the job. Sometimes, I focus too much on the Tiger.
The Tiger looms before me. Nuclear disasters/accidents/pollution/waste … evil??
Peak oil / the coming crash(es).
APATHY. The apathy & indifference of so many people in the face of the Tiger. They infuriate me, this apathy & indifference (or just make me tired, very very very tired. Depends on my energy level, I guess).
And then I connect again with the members of my tribe. Who always help hold me up. They send cheerful email messages. And inspire me. Energize me. Give me hope when no reasonable or possible expectation (or hope) of hope really exists.
Today, in the face of this wandering Despair that afflicts me from time to time, a dear new friend sent me this link to an article called ‘Toward Hope in a Too-late World,’ at the top of which it reads “Only connect. This is how we make meaning. This is how we learn to think as Nature thinks.” (Gregory Bateson, anthropologist.)
This quotation – & the essay that follows it – somehow mysteriously buoyed me up.
I am connected. (I am well-connected, you might say...)
Thankfully, thankfully, thankfully, thankfully, thankfully…
p.s. the friend who sent me that link sent me this one, too. Good stuff if you want a concise, thorough take on where our species now finds itself.