I was talking to a close friend over dinner the other night. For the sake of privacy, let’s call him Joe. Perhaps you have such a friend – someone so dismayed with the events transpiring in our days that you feel the ooze of hopelessness and disempowerment making its way down your sunshine-yellow painted walls as each word is uttered:
The problem is, people don’t vote. The problem is, the number of Representatives has been fixed for the last ninety years. The problem is, the guy’s a narcissistic sociopath. The problem is…
Yes, we all know the problems in our democracy. None of us breathing on this green earth needs to be told.
We’re all feeling dismayed and discouraged, frustrated and exasperated. It’s tempting to adhere to events past. And yet, we have to connect to each other – talk to each other about life and how to get through it in a way that ensures our best chances of success.
I think we can all agree: 2017 was the worst year in a very long time. Like many discouraged women and men, I decided to radically shift my life experience in the year 2018. I was elated for the New Year, looking for everything and anything to feed me. I was – still am – determined to not let politics and happenings in the external world suck me down into the dark vortex.
From Heart Yoga to Lee Harris’s Rebirthing 2018 to Tama Kieves to that whole weird-yet-still-got-something-out-of-it-Crimson Circle Workshop, my daily doses of inspiration keep me from sinking below a sunny outlook and into the shadows. I protect myself from the daily news feed that is our real life Apprentice show – for all American citizens to participate, not just the willing, ego-maniacal, brainless suckers volunteering for a videotaped experience of weekly abuse and more shouts of You’re fired! from the one now shouting it weekly from the White House.
Choosing a positive mindset with mindful caution where we focus can prevent us from failing in our own personal success. As a writer, I cannot live without it, lest the torrents of self-doubt, fear, self-judgment and self-criticism rush in. (Picture a levee breaking in Hurricane Katrina.)
We live – I live – in fragile times, indeed. Perhaps you are feeling as though we are, too.
I’ve been committed to this path ever since I found myself suddenly on my own in midlife. I needed to find ways to get past heartache, confusion and overwhelming loss. I was given the gift of growing beyond my comfort zone and finding deeper ways to expand. It was a life experience I am grateful for having, immeasurably relieved to be over, and one which I continually draw from.
Particularly these days, when we are all challenged with a heavy dose of cynicism, pessimism and too often, regression into past events (can we really all help the way the November 2016 election results turned out in February, 2018?). All of these and similar dynamics threaten our own personal success. They all are ways of feeding a sense of disempowerment. For a writer aspiring to earn a living for her work one day before the year 2018 ends, I cannot afford on any level to allow a barrage of negative thinking into my psyche.
Perhaps you can relate.
I know too well where this mentality can lead. I’m recalling here a time when my actual life depended upon choosing a positive, clear, supportive mindset. It was eight years ago. I’d hiked two miles into Yellowstone’s back country and nearly drowned in the Lamar River. Alone and panicked, I was forced to counsel myself with the voice of angels in just that moment:
You deserve to live. Just breathe, keep reaching for the boulders on the banks.
No other thoughts were allowed to penetrate that precise moment. Nothing. That kind of acuity, that clarity of discernment taught me that my very own survival and ultimate thriving depended entirely on my choosing the right mindset. In just that moment, with angels and some Spirit watching over me, I survived to live and love another and even more days.
I didn’t survive the Lamar River because I was thinking, Gee, how stupid of me not to have paid attention to my own instincts before crossing this river, as I was being hurled downstream.
I have met many along the way whose outlook for probable success, if I were to believe them, would’ve led me to surrender to life long ago. (Well, you know the statistics aren’t looking good for a woman your age to find love again. You should plan on being alone the rest of your life…)
No, if I’d have listened to those and similar voices of “pragmatism” and “hard reality,” I’d have driven my car straight into some intersection, eyes closed and hoping for a rapid conclusion.
I continue to reject such thinking. I think you should, too. I have always believed in the goodness of humanity and the likelihood of a successful outcome. Presently we’re all challenged with negativity and hopelessness. It persists everywhere, resisting all efforts to offer positive examples to the contrary: What about all the marches, the gatherings, the protests we are seeing? What of the individual senators leading the fight against the abuses of power? What of the petitions, the movements, the new groups forming – Emily’s List – The MeToo Movement?
I understand the need in the midst of this our national nightmare to feel afraid, doubtful or even cynical. I feel all of those things too – and more, even — I’m someone easily ripped downward into my own descending spiral. There are plenty of days I’d rather lay on the floor of my barn loft office and simply cry instead of dance to energize my body or motivate my mind before I write yet another essay to be released into the wind.
I just choose, daily, as I did one fateful July in that swirling, deceptively deeper-than-I-imagined Lamar River, not to live there.
The question for me – for all of us is – Where do you choose to live?