I’m up on the farm, the weather is gorgeous and that’s not good news because this is supposed to be our rainy season. Everything’s going wrong and I’m in a great blue funk and not keen to get over it. It may be my delayed reaction to the election, (note that I will not give him any more energy by using his name); or the fact that today is the 2nd anniversary of Herb’s death – thank goodness he didn’t live to see this election - or that most everyone around me is depressed. It could also be that the toilet broke this morning and that the doctor says my bones are thinning.
I’m in the mood to complain, so I will, but I’ll also take this opportunity to curl up in a sunny corner to write this piece, and read the poems of the African American poet Lucille Clifton, so the day won’t be a total loss. I’ve come upon this line, and it stops me in my tracks:
“I choose joy because I am capable of it, and so many others are not.”
It reminds me of the old Taoist story of the farmer whose horse runs away. A neighbor comes over to commiserate, but the farmer just says, “Well, who knows what’s good luck and what’s bad luck?”
The next day the horse comes galloping back with a dozen wild horses in tow, and the neighbor says, “What incredible luck!” but the farmer responds, “Well, who knows what is good luck and what is bad luck?” The next day as the farmer’s son, while taming the wild horses, falls and breaks his leg and the neighbor says, “Oh, what terrible luck!” But the farmer just repeats, “Well, who knows what is good luck and what is bad?”
Then the next day the army comes to their village to round up all the able-bodied young men, but the farmer’s son has a broken leg, so of course he does not have to go to war. The farmer quietly repeats,
“Who knows what is good luck and what is bad luck?”
I love this story, and wonder if we might be living one version of it now? Might it be that our terrible situation is exactly what we need to propel us to make the radical changes we have to make, the ones we’ve been resisting for years?
Anyhow, in my bad mood I went out for a grumpy walk in the neighborhood, fists stuffed in my pockets. My friend Aiden, the yurt-builder who’s been working on the new yurt, hurt his back badly yesterday and is out of commission for the duration. Nor have the boards for the deck been milled yet, as promised, so everything is on hold. Poor guy. If my mood is bad, his must be worse.
Wandering along the lane, I turned into Laguna Farm to check out their gardens and came upon a wild ferny and flowering garden growing straight up, on a wall! How in the world did they do this? Leaves and flowers, stems and succulents - greens and reds and yellows – all jostled for space up in the air! I was simply floored! The folks who made this ‘living wall’ came home from the dentist just then, so we met and stood there talking for an hour. They showed me how it was built, what materials they used, how they keep it watered.
Bad news had segued into good news! Neighbors I’d not known before were now friends. Had things gone as planned, I would neither have met them, nor been inspired to create one myself on the mudroom of the yurt! Unexpected pleasures when you least expect it.
So how then shall we live and how can we know what is bad news and what is good news?
The bad news is obvious: we have voted ourselves into a collective pickle with a total madman, and a lot of folks still think that’s a good thing!
The good news is that it’s so bad that the rest of us have no choice but to react, and to react BIG! Lying down and letting it happen to us is not an option. The universe is pushing us hard to do what we have to do, starting with collective grieving over what we have allowed to happen in our world:
- The destruction of our environment for “profit.”
- The overpopulation of our species at the expense of all other species.
- The injustices we practice daily and consider “law.”
- All the variations of violence based on fearfulness.
Grieving has to come first, I believe, before we can see clearly enough to tackle the realities of our environmental, social and personal crises. Politics may be the last to catch up, but we cannot wait for that to happen. It’s now or never, while our emotions are running high! This time is about joining hands and taking courageous leaps of faith together.
The good news this week is that veterans of our recent wars bowed before the Native American elders and begged forgiveness for our collective past of genocide and disrespect. We now have the technology to beam this across the world, so we were all there with them – weeping together.
More good news is that memberships in all our organizations that protect the earth, the disenfranchised, victims of poverty and war and much more have skyrocketed as more and more of us join in on efforts to create sacred community right here, right now on this blessed earth.
That’s only the beginning. We’re starting to understand that either we are all in this together, or that we will go down together whether we like it or not.
For enough of us it is at last becoming politically correct to have the courage to love, to grieve our losses and to generously share the gifts of this earth.
Against all odds, choosing joy.
Pray it is not too late.