This weekend I went to a High School production of ‘Cabaret’ to see the daughter of a good friend performing in it. Assuming it was a kind of Variety Show, I expected a sweet teenage-y thing, but I’d forgotten that ‘Cabaret’ was also the name of a Musical based on Christopher Isherwood’s ‘Berlin Stories’ taking place during the rise of Hitler – exactly when Herb was escaping from Germany in his mother’s arms in the middle of the night. That same night his father was caught at the Dutch border and thrown into a Nazi jail. Miraculously, everyone eventually made it to London - although Herb nearly died on the way - and then to New York City, thanks to the intervention of some distant relatives in England. I think of them as ‘angels.’
It was a synchronicity that I saw this extraordinary performance of ‘Cabaret’ just days before the second anniversary of Herb’s death, and right after we elected a man to high office who could be as dangerous as a Hitler.
I am pondering the conjunction of these events, and the immense courage it took for a group of gifted, young students to delve deeply into the realities of their grandparents’ world, putting their hearts and souls into exploring, theatrically, the folly of ordinary people who get seduced by evil and are willing to follow where it leads. And they were brilliant at it!
So I am thinking a lot about sanity and courage these days in the face of what we have to deal with now, from the personal and political to the planetary and the spiritual. I believe that from now on we will have to address all four levels at once, with as much prayer and consciousness as we can muster.
“Pray and build consciousness,” is what Woableze, a Native American leader at Standing Rock in North Dakota, has said about how to be effective resisters. Not easy, but necessary that all of us do the personal work of going deep in order to clear ourselves of what is holding us down, and then rising our consciousness like bread into nourishing loaves to feed those around us.
This reminds me of a similar situation that happened when I was about 12, roller-skating in the street with the neighborhood kids late one day. As a group we turned into a ‘hate mob,’ taunting a new girl on the block who had recently come to live with her Aunt – from Holland, I believe. Someone decided she was more ‘foreign’ than we were, so being the ‘real Americans’ we apparently felt justified in calling her names.
I remember with shame that I automatically yelled along with the others, feeling the shared exhilaration of our little band as we pointed fingers together, shouted slogans together, felt superior and righteous together, and then skated away from her – together.
Just like Nazi youths.
That evening, alone in my room, I shuddered at what I had done - but it was done. After that day, every attempt to make friends with her was greeted with cold rebuff, not surprisingly, but my bones still remember what it felt like, both to take part in the mob fever, and then the painful remorse afterwards.
Marcy Poons, wherever you are in this world or the next, know I have never forgotten you, or that day. Please forgive me.
So how then shall we live in these difficult times? What is our work; what can possibly make a positive difference to us and the planet; and how quickly do we have to act?
I am reminded of a Physics experiment Herb showed me once, about frequencies of vibration. When a system is ready to shift into a higher frequency – which apparently happens all the time in Nature – the first thing it does is disintegrate!
Everything falls apart until it finds its way into the faster vibration and stabilizes at the higher frequency. Which is to say that it’s an unholy mess for awhile, until eventually it becomes something more complex and interesting than it was before.
You can actually witness this process using sound to raise the vibration: sand is spread evenly on a metal plate while a sound generator produces a tone, making the sand jiggle and jump around, gradually forming a pattern. When the pitch is raised a notch, the pattern dissolves again into a mess of sand until a new pattern gradually emerges, more intricate than the one before. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvJAgrUBF4w
Yes, it is a magical and beautiful process, and inherent in the natural world, so why be surprised that it is happening to us now, individually and collectively? We’re in a dissolution phase and nobody ever said it would be easy! I know, for myself, that when I’m trying to change an old habit that no longer serves me, I have a hard time letting go of what I’m used to.
If you’re a smoker, ever tried to stop? What about the white sugar habit? Can you not look at a text message when your gizmo goes b-z-zz?
Could it be that during the chaos of this breakdown phase, when a new and higher frequency of vibration is struggling to be born, our job is not to go bananas, but to pray and build our consciousness as Woableze suggests we do, so we can grow into the larger picture coming into view?
As Terry Prachett has Peaseblossom say in ‘The Shepherd’s Crown,’
“If the world is changing, it is we who must change it. We who must decide how it will be. That is how it has always been. And how it must be again.”
Trump, God bless him, is really just one of us, playing a role that must be as terrifying for him as it is for the rest of us. But I believe it may also be an extraordinary opportunity to make the big shifts that have to be made. What else is there to do? If this guy doesn’t get us motivated to change the world – whether he’s doing it on purpose or not - I don’t know what will!
So, what is our work? What can make a positive difference? How quickly do we have to do it?
For myself, I start by checking in with my heart’s desire, what I most love to do and can’t not do. Then I find a way to do it with as much gusto and passion as I can muster, no matter what gets in my way. I figure that since everything needs doing, if each of us does what we love and are good at, most everything is likely to get worked on in the process.
“How can we make a positive difference?”
Well, for me it’s about loving so deeply that I fall in love not only with people, but with rocks and clouds and weeds and worms. Hopefully, this will cause my consciousness to gradually expand in all directions, eventually including every little thing in the world – like a prayer.
“How quickly do we need to act?”
Yesterday, if possible, for the glaciers are melting and the hurricanes are blowing hard. Thirty years ago would have been even better.
I believe we can do all of this as long as we do it together and with all our hearts. It’s time to change the pitch and sing higher, louder, joining hands and consciousness to include every single note in the universe, from atoms to baby mice to galaxies.
And then be astonished by the beauty of the new pattern as it slowly emerges from the chaos.