I’ve been in a kind of a dither lately. Who says dither anymore? 🙂 But today, it’s the word of choice. Also, I’m uber-focused on diet and exercise and re-claiming my health, at the same time as taking into account the need for a long-term strategy to move forward into aging-body land.
At the same time I feel an on-going desire to hibernate or at least soft-focus “as if” there were a snow covered landscape outside my window prohibiting the use of my car, the running of errands, and accomplishing my endless to-do list. Alas, the weather, after a couple of months of long-awaited rain, has turned to brilliant sunshine and mildness.
Combine the above with the goings-on in the early stages of the Presidential election campaigns and you might “get’ my dithering, uber-focusing, and desire to hibernate!
As if any part of the entire Republican roster weren’t enough to send me hiding my head under blankets, I’m finding the – how-shall-I-put-it? unpleasantness? of the finger-pointing between Bernie and Hilary’s campaigns and/or supporters dis-heartening.
I know (and love) people who favor both Bernie and Hillary (one or the other) so it feels a little like a “family” affair. While I personally feel drawn to Bernie, I understand that others prefer Hillary. Both these candidates are sane, intelligent, and, I believe, have the interests of the nation at heart. I think (hope!) that most of us Democrats, no matter which candidate is our preference, will work for the other one if he or she gets nominated because the consequences of the alternative — a Republican President — are too dire to contemplate. In the meantime, I DO want there to be a discussion of Hillary and Bernie’s differing positions and ideas. I want them to further shape and clarify what needs to be clarified. But I really hope there doesn’t have to be some of the acrimony I’ve noticed and read about continuing between the two campaigns and/or their supporters. I guess it might be considered a natural part of politics, but still, it hurts my heart and my brain. Just sayin’.
On a personal hurting-heart note, my first cousin Gary, the son of my mother’s beloved sister Rose, died last week. He was only 63. It’s affected me and everyone who knew him a lot. He was a working class kid from Brooklyn, who earned his way through college driving a NYC taxi cab. He became an incredibly successful lawyer in Phoenix, but never gave up his Brooklyn accent, his inborn humility, generosity, kindness and ability to tell a great story. Gary was the quiet one, but everyone listened. He was a total mensch. So, that too.
We all have full plates. I know that. I’m 100% sure of it. It’s part of the deal, this being human. But perspective is everything. And because I know this too, I’m always trying to give myself a perspective adjustment. To see if looking from a different vantage point won’t clarify something.
As Doctor BJ Miller said in this interview at On Being, and I paraphrase here, sometimes I think I’m the most unlucky person and other times I think I’m the luckiest. (BJ is a beyond-awesome person who lost two legs and an arm when he was 20 years old in an accident where he was electrocuted. He is currently the Executive Director of San Francisco’s Zen Hospice.) The interview is one of On Being’s best. If you listen, you’ll understand how important perspective is, and you might, if you’re like me, have your socks knocked off.
With Black Lives Matters shining the spotlight on white privilege, I have been made more aware of how I might look at and understand “privilege” in ways I hadn’t before. Also, how it actually manifests in my own life. I try to use this knowledge to understand life more accurately and not to invoke guilt in myself or others. Guilt is not helpful, but it’s not easy to let go of feeling guilt for one’s “privileged” good fortune. And it’s not just the issue of black and white. It’s also all the (mostly Syrian) refugees in Europe whose plight wakes me up to the privilege of having a home and a relatively peaceful country to live in. And the fact that America is offering almost no welcome. This too feels so wrong and painful. Sometimes I feel like I squander my privilege on too much worry, too little action. Then I worry about that. More useless activity.
Ok, I’m already editing out a million things that are on my mind this month and that have kept me from writing here, kept me dithering and wanting a snowscape to explain away all the complications, or at least give them a good blizzard’s worth of temporary burying.
It was Parker Palmer’s post on Facebook this morning that finally got me to open up my writing page today. Parker is another inspiring teacher I’m grateful for. And besides his posting of Mary Oliver’s most wonderful poem When Death Comes, he ended his short essay with this… “Memo to Self: Keep asking yourself what it might mean to fully inhabit your part of the world today…”
I like the idea of full habitation, not partial. This is what came up for me, reflecting on what it might mean to fully inhabit my part of the world… the good luck, the bad luck, grief, worry, inspiration, the full range of emotions. Yeah. I don’t want to exclude the difficult ones, just because they’re difficult. What full habitation means for me is to write this… Today what it means is to bake some healthy muffins to support my dietary and health aspirations…. to make contact with those I love…
I read something in Design Mom’s blog this morning that also struck me… It was at the end of the Feb 4, 2016 post, “A Random Collection of Thoughts”. I like Design Mom, aka Gabrielle Blair. She is a 41 year old Mormon mom of six kids, a designer, a leader, and often very progressive, especially around issues of children and feminism, and taking a compassionate stance on a lot of issues. I like her partly because she Really seriously inhabits her life, full thrust, and is honest enough that when she had a several month bout of serious depression a couple of years ago, she was incredibly open, honest, and compassionate in the way she wrote about it. She’s got tons of family and friends, and still this morning she wrote: “Really what I want is a conversation. I want to talk about random stuff with another person. I want the back and forth. If you have any thoughts on this idea, let me know.”
This is one of my main longings too. For the conversation. Random stuff. But also going as deep as I can, as we can. I think I write here and start different groups (an older women’s buddhist group, a writing group, a Tara Brach meditation & writing group, and now an On Being Civil Conversations group) because I want the conversation. All the other stuff of my life I can work with. But the conversation with another, with others… Respectful, enlightening, learning from each other. Not solely for the sake of conversing, though that is good too. But to see what we can ultimately understand more deeply, what we can create, and how we can contribute to positive change together. This … is how I want to fully inhabit my world.
I’d love to hear what Parker Palmer’s reflection stirred in you. What does fully inhabiting your part of the world mean to you today?