Monday 22 June 2020

Finding Our Way Through the Minefields of Grief

L.R. Knost's words which ring with wisdom and are infused with compassion also give rise to hope. They empower each and every one of us by pointing to the light that is within us.

We find ourselves living through times which are unprecedented for our current generations. There is suffering, there is fear, there is loss. We are inextricably caught up in a tide of uncertainty. Our lives have been turned upside down. We have been tossed into a raging ocean of change. Gone the arrogance, gone the complacency, gone...

Nature has an innate propensity for balance. This is the lode-stone of the natural world. Not from a place of right or wrong, it moves from the source of all being and will never stray far from that place of 'balance' no matter the works and wishes of men.

Time and again civilizations have come and gone and as Shakespeare so famously said; ' there is nothing new under the sun.'

Stripped bare of our certainties, stripped bare of our delusions we suddenly find ourselves on the borderlands of a new way of thinking which in turn is leading towards a new way of living, the one must precede the other.

 In our current reality internet technology has opened doorways into one another's lives, where ever they or we may be. We are connected with one another via our smartphones, via social media and instantaneous news updates, suddenly many of the connections to the world we thought we knew, exist merely via a small device which can sit in the palm of our hand.

Yet what remains constant and unchanged is the fact that we exist in an interdependent world, it has always been so and it will always be so, and yet only now can we begin to grasp how profound and true this really is. Only now can this truth become 'real' for many of us.

There has always been suffering and there always will be and yet, now, because of our ability to be so much more aware of what is happening around us and in the greater world at large we can find that our senses and our minds overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information and the intensity of what is coming to our notice, so much more of it bad news than good.

If it all feels as though it is much worse than before it is because we are aware of so much more...

Things such as climate change or issues that go against our values and principles and yet for which we feel blatantly powerless to change can bring on a sense of profound inner unease and grief particularly for those starting out on their life journies.

 What are the coping mechanisms for finding our way through the minefields of grief, collective grief as much as our own personal sense of grief for whatever reason it may be rising up in us?

I know that. for instance, since the beginning of the bushfire crisis in Australia a sense of grief had been welling up in me and I had to stand back from it and take a good and long look. Not because I felt the grief was inappropriate, but because I felt powerless and because there was then and remains now the conviction that there is so much more of it coming. 

As Michael Mann recently said in an excellent article posted in the Guardian. "... bushfires have burned their way to the front of everyone's mind." This was not just a matter for Australia. Smoke impacted many areas in New Zealand and the smoke cloud ended up by encircling the entire globe.

Humanity is awakening the fact that our lives are intertwined and what happens on one corner of the globe is going to have an effect on the other side as well.
I think we human beings have a tendency to internalize our grief, whatever the cause for that grief may appear to be, and by internalizing it can begin to metamorphize into something else. In this way, we avoid identifying where and how our deep inner sadness is arising.

 We find ourselves on the frontiers of a brave new world and we cannot turn away from changes taking place because they impact us all so directly. Nothing is static and there is absolutely no certainty. This 'truth' is immensely confronting but it can also push us to open our minds and to take in the possibilities of renewal, expansion and growth. 

From the fires of destruction rises the Pheonix of renewal, we can choose to ignore it or we can turn our gaze in a new direction and witness the arising of this Pheonix.

Reaching into our own mind's as also reaching out to assist and nurture one person, one animal, one plant at a time might not change the whole world but it will change the world for us and for that one person, one animal or one plant and this is what we need to keep in mind during these gravely unsettled and unsettling times. 

Focusing on what we can do in our own small way, day by day and moment by moment is empowering. This is where our potential lies and the way in which we can move forward with grief is in knowing that we are doing whatever we can to transform it in our own lives.

There are of course, many people who will not acknowledge what I am speaking of and simply shrug and ask, 'what grief?' But those who know, well they just know. They might not have actually put it into words, they may not even have identified it but something in these words rings true for them.

We have to find ways that empower us in order to move through the current and very active minefields of grief. Otherwise, the sheer scale of suffering that we see in the world around us can just feel too overwhelming and being 'overwhelmed' is the antithesis of being empowered.

You may already have heard the story about the 'Starfish' but I will retell it here because it rings with truth and hope. The message is timeless and can be applied every single day in our lives in the most practical of ways. 

The Starfish Story

"One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.” “Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…” I made a difference for that one."

Loren Eiseley

Making a difference one by one.

If the basis of all change in this world is within us, then it is even more important to avoid, at all costs, the temptation to become disheartened. If every true change begins within our own mind and heart then rather than being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of whatever is happening around us, we can instead zoom within to the unmovable centre of 'silence.'

From that inner centre everything becomes possible and we discover our power and we discover our light.