“lt’s so bleak”
We were hanging out, chatting at the local dog park.
We have a little community of regulars, where we know each others’ dogs’ names–though learning their people’s names is a whole, very considered step into intimacy. Our new acquaintance’s little white dog wore a fresh bandana, showing off her recent grooming.
“Ever since the Roe decision I had to step out of it all. It was just too hard.”
I took a deep breath.
This conversation is so familiar to me. As a sixty-five year old, I tune into how younger folks are doing in this world that seems so full of apocalyptic beliefs and imagery.
I worry about the impact of the amplification of fear stories, and how easy it is to get pulled into their vortex and believe they’re accurately portraying reality. I watch the statistics on skyrocketing depression and anxiety, and wonder how to support the younger generations to build the foundation of agency, joy, and authenticity that could fuel and anchor them into the infinite energy that exists beyond that fear.
I managed to eke out something like:
“I hope you don’t get too pulled under by all of this negativity–it can be pretty hard on a person,”
and appreciated her for her ongoing activism before our dogs demanded our attention. But this is what I really wanted to say to her:
We are now a global body and a global brain.
What happens in Wuhan, China, directly affects our health–and echoes out to impact the bodies of most other people across the planet. And with the internet, we can instantly reach people who are worlds away. Never before in the history of human existence have we been so connected.
As we lurch into this strange new web of interconnection, we are meanwhile simmering in the context of climate change, the threat of nuclear weapons, and vast economic disparities. While before we had the luxury of operating as discrete governments, humans are suddenly faced with how nonsensical such separation is in the face of the need for collective action.
How do we handle such an immense shift
within our human species?
We could devolve into our old strategies of polarization, stratification, and competition.
We could return to our species’ reliance on authoritarianism and use of force to try to strongarm and pillage those we’ve deemed to be our enemies. Such a way of life is so very tempting in its simplicity. In the face of chaos, relying on brutality, fear-mongering, and dehumanization might even keep us grateful to whatever mighty patriarch we can find to violently establish social order.
Or…There is, of course, another way.
We capitalize on the crumbling of old structures to rethink, redream who we really want to be as a collective.
We become conscious of the tremendous vortical pull of Reactive Brain, which believes itself in its panicked pull to survive, no matter what the cost–and we take the steps to choose Creative Brain anyway.
It can feel like we’re caught in a riptide, unable to swim away from the tremendous pull of our species’ potential for mob behavior. But that’s an illusion. Once we become acquainted with our own Reactive Brains, and so understand we’re all the same in our instinctive mammalian threat response, other choices become available. We don’t have to follow our reaction; instead, we can shift our whole physiology and step into a conscious creation. Then we can choose to keep searching for the common thread that we know is there, the one that connects us to us and to each other, us to our more expanded selves. And we find it. We always find it. And we can then grab ahold to pull ourselves back to dry land of new possibility.
In her interview with Krista Tipit in “On Being,” Adrienne Maree Brown described her awakening to the importance of every human interaction:
“So I was doing electoral organizing in 2004 — 2003, 2004 — we’re gearing up. It’s post-9/11. It’s like, we’re going to war with Iraq and Afghanistan. And we’re like, we’ve got to get Bush out of office. So we’re doing all this organizing, and it clicked for me, in a way that I couldn’t — it’s one of those things. You see it, and you can’t un-see it. And I was like, oh, we are trying to just change the top layer of this very layered cake, this very layered process, this system of governance. We think that if we just win the presidency, that then we’ll be able to change the world.
And it clicked for me that it’s like, actually, it’s a fractal system. And it’s layer on top of layer on top of layer. And if none of us are practicing democracy anywhere, it’s not going to just suddenly work at the top layer. [laughs] And I got it.
And then I realized — so something about smallness, I was able to gain respect for, because I was like, every single large system or structure or network or political protocol, all of it is made up of small things: of humans either having or not having necessary conversations, and humans being willing to stand up for what is right and stand up against what is wrong. It’s all these small activities that we need to get great at if we want to actually have anything that would be a real democracy.”
I didn’t say any of this to my new, young friend in the dog park. So I send these words out to you all, reminding and encouraging you to look for the light/common thread, as it’s always there. What I did say, as we leashed our dogs and walked away, is what I want to say to you now:
“Keep the faith.”
SOME IDEAS TO SUPPORT YOU THROUGH THE MIDTERM ELECTION–AND BEYOND:
- Elections are a gauge of a government or organization’s current level of consciousness. As we move into the upcoming midterm, we’ll find many things reflected about our functioning as a nation. However, taking a temperature of any body is simply a snapshot into this moment; it does not predict the future.
- If you observe others’ Reactive Brain-based behavior (or your own), keep in mind: they (and you) are doing the best they can. Reactive Brain is a liar, in that, whatever state we’re in, we believe ourselves (and want to convince others of, as we try to control an unpredictable world).
- Look at the Inner Map. Contracted states (Shame, Guilt, Despair, Sadness, Frozen Fear, Agitated Fear, Anger, and Righteous Pride) only drain us. The mobilized states of Agitated Fear, Anger, and Pride might seem like they exude energy, but they’re adrenaline-based, and so exhaust us. Expanded states (Neutrality, Acceptance, Appreciation, Love, Joy, Peace) send out huge waves of energy–and they are self-generating. So choose your states wisely. Tell yourself and those around you stories about life from “Above the Line.” These are as true–and so much more life-affirming–as any of those from “Below the Line.”
- The states Below the Line are dense. That’s what “darkness” consists of, all that dense energy that accumulates when we don’t feel our anger, fear and sadness all the way through our bodies. Like the sun that is behind the clouds, whether or not we can see it, the light of expanded states is on the other side of feeling all of your dense emotions all the way through. Know that Creative Brain is waiting for you–and the rest of us.
- As our global brains and global bodies discover how to reliably access that expansion, we are now in the realm of infinite possibilities. As a collective finding a new way, we are unstoppable.
All of this is to say:
Keep the faith.
Better yet, be the faith.
Blessings to you, as you discover how to have your biggest, most powerful life!