|Photo of me by 4 year old on a "Pirate ship" in a marina playground
I invite you to set sail with me to discover a New World.
I am aiming for The Land of &. Please scroll down to the bottom of this post under the image of the green hill if you are unfamiliar with this place*
It is a land of extreme paradoxes and radical inclusion and it is a place where hero/ines, villains and victims find common ground.
I'm warning you ahead of time that the waters we sail today will be turbulent and chaotic. I anticipate there will be mutinies along the way. AND if you make it all the way to the shore without abandoning ship or having me keelhauled, I trust it will be well worth the journey.
Today's New Moon (readers of this blog know that I consider new moons to be a time of fresh starts and that I believe those new beginnings to be even more powerful when they follow extremely challenging times) falls on Columbus Day. This day is also celebrated by many now (including me) as Indigenous People's Day.
It is also Canadian Thanksgiving. They are ahead of us in their celebration due to an earlier harvest. And perhaps they are ahead of us in some other ways as well.
But whether or not you are in love with the (admittedly imperfect, but still a heartthrob for me😍) Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau; celebrating and giving thanks early and often is a really good idea!
The practice of gratitude and focusing on the harvest is one that I guarantee will offer a cornucopia of benefits.
I am overly ambitious in the abundant themes that I want to offer to you today, but I hope you will find nourishment here if you have the time to pick through this profusion of ideas.
Feel free to skip the orange highlighted part unless you question my motives for the rather controversial stance I'm about to take --I don't want to be dismissed as someone who doesn't take this seriously.
I make no secret of my political leanings. I am way left of Bernie Sanders. I believe Dr. Ford with all my heart. I have my own #me too stories. I have a minor in women's studies and have been a very strong feminist for most of my adult life.
If I added up all of the protests I have attended, all of the petitions I have signed, all of the political campaigns I have devoted time, energy and money to, as well as taking into consideration the variety of actions in the public realm and my private choices in life that I have taken, I'm pretty sure no one could fault me for being a slacker in taking action on behalf of my beliefs.
In addition to politics, my spiritual beliefs include being a champion of the Divine Feminine in the world as well as part tree-hugging, Earth worshiping Pagan AND I am part Christian, as well as actively celebrating a wide variety of holiday/holy-days from many traditions around the world.
AND I drive a car, use a cell phone, and (despite very limited purchases and most of them either used or local/fair trade etc.) purchase other products that were brought to me by exploited people.
I have an enormous respect and admiration for the way of life and teachings of Indigenous People all over the world (most recently I have been blown away by the people at Standing Rock), AND I live happily on stolen land.
It is a messy, chaotic time and we all do our best to make our way through it according to our individual belief systems.
So here comes the part where those who are feeling anger, betrayal and despair about Kavanaugh, Trump, and all who support them might follow my more conservative readers-- who probably jumped ship as soon as I described my beliefs.
I hope I'm wrong. I hope all of you "hoisted the sails of willingness" (as Caroline Casey says) and are willing to hear me out. If you are still with me and haven't read the part that explains about this land we are sailing towards, now would be a good time.*
In The Land of &, Christopher Columbus, Brett Kavanagh, Donald Trump, (or if you take the opposing viewpoint, Christine Blasey Ford, the conniving Democrats, and witch hunting women), all took the actions that YOU would have made if you would have lived in their life circumstances with their unique conditioning.
This does not in any way justify any harm perpetrated by anyone. Rape or any form of sexual intimidation is wrong. As is lying. Or (from the opposing perspective), a political pawn lying to destroy a man's life for political gain is wrong. Exploiting an entire people, (as Columbus and other conquistadors/conquerers/dictators have done) leading to destruction of their way of life is also not okay!
We, the observers are affected by what happens and should not be complacent, neutral or passive about what we believe to be harmful AND we need to reconsider the strategy of fighting --especially when it involves vilifying "others" who are not like us.
We, the perpetrators (and we are all perpetrators at one time or another as even minor, subtle unkindnesses and untruths ripple outwards), should not be self-righteous about what we believe "they" deserve. We need to hold ourselves accountable for our actions AND forgive ourselves and others for past mistakes.
I am Christine Blasey Ford (I have been abused in various ways and have courageously stood up for what I believed even when I knew it would be detrimental) AND I am Brett Kavanagh (when I was younger I drank to the point of blacking out and did shameful things I don't remember. I have also lied to keep from getting in trouble or to get what I wanted at various times in my past.)
We all have our shadows and we have all harmed others. We did what we did largely because of our life experiences and cultural/ancestral/neurological conditioning.
I'm not going to get all new-agey on you and say we should not fight because we are all a part of Source/God/Love (although I do believe that) nor am I advocating that we all act out of open compassionate hearts because that's what Jesus/Buddha/ Quan Yin or your deity of choice would do. Although that would be awesome --if everybody did that!
History has shown what happened to the openhearted, trusting and innocent (or in some cases just less well armed) Indigenous Peoples of the world. History also showed the abysmal failure of appeasement in dealing with Hitler.
Oh sure, why not throw in Hitler and (by extension) maybe some pedophiles and terrorists at this point just to make things a little bit more challenging for me?! Can I just say that I am not enjoying what my Muse directed as my assignment today?! I had other plans for this blog...
AND history has also shown the endless perpetuation of conflicts with continual fighting. Even when the "bad guys" are conquered, whatever it was that caused them to "go bad" does not just disappear.
It really is true that what we resist, persists AND we can't just roll over, expose our throats and soft underbellies while trusting in the best nature of predators.
If innocent people (or creatures or the planet) are being harmed, those who have the capacity to protect or offer justice need to take action.
We need to take action AND we need to very carefully consider what actions will be most effective.
There are circumstances where violence is absolutely necessary. If a hungry tiger is leaping towards your helpless baby, there is no time to consider an alternative to shooting if you have a gun.
Obviously there are less extreme examples and there are more subtle forms of violence as well.
For instance, shaming or mocking can give a self righteous pleasure (and one I am totally guilty of indulging in --mostly passively by laughing at clever humor when I'm feeling despair), but ultimately this only adds fuel to the fire.
Those who are shamed or mocked may be burned by that fire, but they are even more likely to come back to burn those who treated them that way --to say nothing of those innocent bystanders who get torched as well. And furthermore those who wield the torches are also harmed, whether they realize it or not.
Rather than make further assertions as to what I think you should believe or do at this point, I just want to ask some questions. They are, of course, leading questions, 😉 but I'm hoping you'll overlook that and answer them as honestly as you can. I'm asking the same questions of myself and doing my best to recognize the ways in which I too, perpetuate these dynamics.
What if fighting against the villains only makes them fight back harder?
What if "they" (and maybe even peace-loving you?) are addicted to fighting due to unfortunate choices made a long time ago? Getting a fix feels good in the moment and may temporarily "fix" a "problem", but what if fixes are not the answer?
What if in escalating conflict, you are encouraging them to perpetrate even more harm on themselves and others?
Are your friends, (including "friends" on social media) family and community members with opposing views all wrong, bad and stupid? Should you just push them out of your life? Will that resolve anything?
What if (as Charles Eisenstein advocates) we sincerely ask the question "what's it like to be you?" And then genuinely, empatheticaly listen to what they say and ask more to learn why it is that they believe what they believe?
What if you also paid close attention to what happens inside of you when having these conversation? Do you recognize some things you share that you don't like? How do you handle feeling triggered and vulnerable? Can you sit in the middle of that without running or fighting?
What if we look for common ground, even (especially!) in the midst of the worst conflicts? Is there even a faint possibility that we can find that? And if it is possible shouldn't we give that a try?
What if things need to get really bad to get our attention and force us to do something different?
What if we view what is happening in our World right now as a powerful time of evolutionary change and brainstorm ways to respond in a new way to disturbing events and behaviors?
What if you believed in the concept of Pronoia (Life is conspiring on your behalf)? If you play with the thought that this outlandish belief might be remotely possible; what creative possibilities can you come up with about how this present time in our country and on our planet could somehow be beneficial?
If you have your eyes on the prize, what is that prize? If that prize is living in a happier, healthier and more harmonious world (which I think everyone agrees upon, even if they don't agree what it looks like or how to get there), how likely is it that we will attain this prize by fighting with each other? Has that ever worked for very long?
In the midst of ever widening polarization, where the stakes get higher and higher and behaviors get lower and lower, we can do what we've always done. We can assign roles to our selves and others of villain, victim or hero/ine who will fight forever.
But what else is possible?
Typically those who have little power are unlikely to gain access to people who are in the positions of the greatest power.
Realistically, I can't literally go up to Donald Trump and look him in the eye and ask "what's it like to be you"? Even if I could, and could spend enough time with him to gain his trust to have an in-depth conversation, it would probably be pretty difficult for us to find a lot of common ground. But I'll bet we could find enough to at least allow for some tiny shifts.
Of course, when someone is entrenched in extreme views and attached to the power that goes with them, it is very difficult to connect if you are coming from the opposite extreme.
But we do have access to plenty of people in our circles who disagree with us about many things.
What if we start where we are, with whoever is in front of us --or on social media or however we connect?
What if we treated everyone (especially young children whose views of the world are just being formed) with a little more kindness and compassion? What if we listened with our full, open, honest attention not only to what they say but to what they're truly longing for that is under the surface of their words?
Can you imagine how different the world would be if someone wise and kind had taken Little Adolph under their wing?
I sure as hell don't have all of the answers to all of these questions, nor do I always walk my talk. I do, however do the best I know how to do. And I'm betting you do too!
I didn't get to go where I wanted to with this blog. I wanted to play more with the paradoxes in The Land of & and explore more about the role of gratitude and celebration in the midst of (or on the heels of) difficult times when we feel scared, despairing and betrayed. I know a lot about that.
But this post is already way too long and convoluted. And I do not have the time to do the ruthless editing that is needed. Fortunately, there are gifts to be found in chaos, and there is always room for more exploration in The Land of &!
|This is a photo I took on the shores of Lake Lagunitas that I am using to represent The Land of &. And yes, it is for sale !
I have been using the theme of the Hero/ine's Journey (which is the theme of a huge number of our best loved stories from ancient times to popular culture's Blockbuster movies and best-selling books) as a way of exploring those in-between places where an old life or way of life is ending (or recently over) and the new one is still a mystery.
Joseph Campbell called the place in the Hero's Journey after you cross over the threshold from the ordinary world; The Special World. Charles Eisenstein describes what he calls The Space Between Stories (in reference to our world right now). SARK calls it the Marvelous Messy Middle. William Bridges in his enormously popular and practical book Transitions, calls it the Neutral Zone. Lewis Carroll called it Wonderland.
There are other names for it as well, but what is noteworthy is that in all of these places, the usual rules of the "ordinary world" do not apply. Paradoxes are around every turn in the path in this misty, mystical, mysterious and often maddening territory.
I came up with the "The Land of &", because there is usually an "and" (sometimes looks like a "but") between the two seemingly contradictory truths found in paradoxes.
That "and" spot in-between the two truths can be a confusing and uncomfortable tight place AND it is a zone where magic and transformative alchemy can take place.
Transformative alchemy takes us far out of our comfort zone sometimes into excruciating pain. Think about the heat it takes to melt metals, the pressure it takes to form a diamond or the bug soup stage of the caterpillar.🍵🐛
Pain, fear and confusion cause our survival conditioning and consumer culture to warn us frantically of 🚫danger 🛑 AND it is the only way to evolve so that we can reach the miraculous New World that is waiting for us. 🦋
The list of paradoxes in everything from philosophy to quantum physics and many more mundane topics about how to live our day-to-day lives is a long one.
Playing Sparks & Leaps will not solve all of the paradoxical mysteries of life (and I will explain later why this is a good thing), but it will offer alternative ways to find your way when you find yourself in the "The Land of &".
In the meantime, as I am putting the game together, if you find yourself in a confusing time of transition, I invite you to do your best to be present with the discomforts that you find there (rather than trying to figure out how to fix your problems or make the pain go away with your favorite addictive fix) AND to RELAX and soften your resistance--even when that feels impossible.
I promise you will find magic there if you can do this. Don't forget to enlist allies to support you.