September has bled into October, and my blog is dangerously close to becoming the Random Photo Friday Blog, flecked with the occasional snapshot, the rare reflection.
Murky grey mist shrouds these San Francisco mornings like a cloak, and fear slides in with the fog. The Dow Jones Industrial Average wavers and plummets in jagged lines like those on seismograph; the planet gasps. The presidential election plays out around us in a Dali-esque circus, sound-bites layered with photo clips, speckled with talking heads chirping and chattering over one another, lips flapping, eyes darting, fingers wagging.
I see you talking, but I can’t hear what you’re saying.
These are the mad days, the last days, Rome crumbling, Babylon falling. Is that handwriting on the wall, or is my vision playing tricks on me? I’m trying to keep up, to stay open, to believe, but sometimes my head just spins. A friend pointed the way towards the song “Imagine” recently, and I nearly wept. Imagine there’s no countries / it isn’t hard to do / nothing to kill or die for / and no religion too…
Do we even dare imagining such a thing in these fraught times?
On my run this morning, I stopped to catch my breath at the top of a set of stairs and placed my hand on the steel rail. It was stone cold, wet with dew. I stood there, feeling the texture of the metal with its grooves and chips, listening to my breath rush in and out -- for one moment, completely still.
If only I would do that more often.
When I can't seem to find a quiet place, I pick up my battered copy of When Things Fall Apart : Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron, and read things like this:
Well, it starts with being willing to feel what we are going through. It starts with being willing to have a compassionate relationship with the parts of ourselves that we feel are not worthy of existing on the planet.
The only reason we don't open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don't feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else's eyes.
Is that too simple? Or might it be true?
Clarity. Fearlessness. Compassion. Most of what is happening in the world right now is beyond my grasp, but these are three things I can aim for, here + now. Somehow, just thinking about them makes me breathe easier.