The Razor’s Edge
How do we stay awake and engaged while at the same time not get swept into the waves of fear, anxiety, and collective outrage? Where is the razor’s edge between staying active and aware and at the same time staying soft and joyful?
Lately, I’ve felt almost numb from what’s going on in our country. I want to feel inspired and lit up, but the truth is, I feel discouraged and isolated. Every day the bombardment of news events, actions to take, things to get mad about, opinions to have, and information to know, gets more and more intense. I feel like I’m in the ocean when you can’t seem to get out from under the waves that keep pounding you down to the ground and then dragging you back out.
There seem to be two polar reactions to what’s happening politically right now. On the one side, people become overly reactive and hyper vigilant. They start blaming and solidifying the enemy and becoming more and more afraid. They get super active, calling their political representatives, signing petitions, re-posting articles, and being loud and clear with their opinions. The other extreme is to crawl into a dark hole and watch Netflix (which is what I tend to do) or keep blindly consuming and believing someone “out there” will solve the problems.
My question is, where’s the middle? How do we stay awake and engaged while at the same time not get swept into the waves of fear, anxiety, and collective outrage? Where is the razor’s edge between staying active and aware and at the same time staying soft and joyful? How do we share our concern but not feed the collective neurosis happening all around us? And, how do we tend to our own needs to both feel connected and not engage with technology as our only way of feeling abreast of what’s going on?
I’m not sure I have the answers to these questions because like everyone, I’m in the thick of it. But I do know that inquiring can open up a new way of being in the world that allows us to feel into spaces and ways of being we might otherwise shut off. So just by asking the questions, the weight of how I should or should not be lightens. When I open my computer and read my Facebook feed or the news, I can inquire into what it’s like to stay present and feel my reactions. I can be discerning about what I choose to read and share. And then, I can shut my computer off and look at the sky. I can make a simple cup of tea and remember that no matter what’s happening in the world, the sky is above, the earth is below, and I am being held as a human being in the world of NOW. There is a lot of power in choice, how we choose to react and how we choose to spend our time. We become disempowered when we get swept up into emotional reactivity and hyper-activity even though it feels like we’re accomplishing something.
I realized that one reason I tend to crawl into a hole as a reaction (besides the fact that I have a Cancer moon) is because I’m tired of political discourse. I’m not saying it’s not important, and thank goodness for the hard-working, smart journalists and activists who are fighting the good fight; I’m just ready for a deeper conversation about how we take what’s happening in the world and transform it into our own spiritual evolution as human beings. I believe finding middle ground is about remembering our true heritage as human beings and our connection to the Earth and to each other, in real time. This is why I think what’s happening at Standing Rock is one of the most important issues right now. That movement is not just political in the sense of protesting but in the deeper sense of learning and remembering what it is to be human and connect with community and the wisdom of ancestors.
We can mistakingly believe that the only way to stay politically engaged is through traditional forms of activism (phone calls, petitions, marches..) yet what about the radical act of making a simple wholesome meal? Or slowing down to what another person is saying, showing love, care, and concern for the people we love and strangers.? Touching into our hearts and feeling grateful can be profoundly radical. While it may seem easy to write this stuff off as navel-gazing spiritual indulgence, I invite you to consider that being a true activist is both staying engaged and coming into the most simple truths of what make us human. Being an activist may mean shutting off the computer and getting outside, breathing in all the wisdom that nature has to offer. In fact, this may be the only way we can discover the tools we’ll need to have an evolutionary upshift and save our planet.
Lulu Strongheart is a member of the Albuquerque Shambhala Center, and a past member of San Francisco Shambhala where she served on the Executive Committee, as Regimental Commander, and co-taught classes. She consults on leadership, group dynamics, and strategic visioning.
Lulu lives in Santa Fe, NM with her two year old son.