How to Get through these times without going crazy
"One Sweet World
Nine planets around the sun
Only one does the sun embrace
Upon this watered one
So much we take for granted
So let us sleep outside tonight
Lay down in our mother's arms
For here we can rest safely
If green should turn to grey
Would our hearts still bloody be ?
And if mountains tumble away
And the river dry, would it stop the stepping feet?
So let us sleep outside tonight
Lay down in our mother's arms
For here we can rest safely
Take all that we can get
When it's done
Nobody left to bury here
Nobody left to dig the holes
And here we can rest safely
One sweet world
Around a star is spinning
One sweet world
And in her breath I'm swimming
And here we will rest in peace"
Welp, I permanently deactivated my Facebook account last week. And I was never on Twitter or Instagram.) Since doing so, several friends have checked in via email, I have subscribed to the LA Times, Daily Kos and Slate. And now I have time to read, exercise, meditate, etc. I was spending way too much time on it and it only fed my functional depression.
I don't judge anyone for wanting to engage on social media, but just wanted to let everyone know that much like other addictions, you can kick it and get on with your life. I feel so much better!
I remain grateful for this much more positive and peaceful forum with like and open minded folk.
Way to go Laura! I might be running the risk of self-promotion, but you might be interested in an opinion piece I wrote a few months ago for my university newspaper about Facebook's cold-blooded business practices and the need for conscientious objectors to turn their back on the Zuckerberg fiefdom (here's the link).
In the article, I mention decentralized social networking "confederacies" as a promising alternative to today's cast of internet leviathans, and I stand by that proposition. Digital social networking will only become truly democratic and conducive to progress once its domain has been wrested from corporate interests. Happily all we have to do to begin that process is delete those social media accounts that no longer serve our "higher selves." It really is that simple.
So on Saturday I returned home after helping out some friends with household chores for a little over a week on their homestead in Vermont while they juggled work responsibilities and caring for their two young children. They only have occasional wifi and do not own a television, so for nine days I had almost no exposure to the 24/7 news cycle. Needless to say, I've come away feeling much more balanced in mind and spirit.
Advocates of withdrawal from gadgets and media noise seem to met by two types of criticism. On one hand such practices are derided as effete self-care ("snowflakes" hiding from the real world). On the other, critics will say that one has to be kept abreast of all the developments on the national and international stages in order to respond and effect change for the better. It then follows that those who aren't up to date are hermits living in their own little world. shut off from the crises of the day.
But here's the thing. My days in Vermont, along with those of my hosts, were grounded from dawn to dusk in the physical tasks of real life; washing dishes, cooking meals, getting the kids ready for pre-K, doing laundry, shoveling snow from the driveway and solar panels, watering vegetable seedlings, walking the dog, sweeping floors, hauling and stacking firewood, taking out the compost, and putting the kids to bed at night. You can't get more "real world" than that.
In a culture full of pathological liars, attention seekers, and all of their sycophants, there's something subversive about muffling the rabble and declaring "No thanks, I have more important things to do." I think that by focusing on the mundane tasks of the everyday, we become much more knowledgable about our own values, what we stand for, and what real "truth" actually is. Eric Chisler, by way of Bayo Akomolafe, sums up my point much more eloquently when he writes "Remember the earth. Remember your ancestors. Remember your four-legged, winged, crawling relatives. Remember life. Your life, your way of life, that is the only activism you've ever had. Use it. Make your existence a ritual that honors everything your body and words touch."
I guess what I'm trying to say is that setting aside designated periods to unplug is integral to the process of effecting positive change in these times. We need reminders of what we're fighting for in the first place, and I for one would like to live in a world where hauling firewood, cooking meals, watering seedlings, and shoveling snow can be performed out from under a cloud of dread.
Coyote, what you write is pure gold. I also loved your piece about Facebook. I combed the NYTimes article, the original story, and, although I'm grateful to the Times their investigation, I thought you summarized the whole situation better than they did! Thank you for writing here for us.
In a culture full of pathological liars, attention seekers, and all of their sycophants, there's something subversive about muffling the rabble and declaring, "No thanks, I have more important things to do. -- Coyote
Coyote - Well said. I've been off social media and its inherent ability to lead me down every rabbit hole for over a month now. The only interactions I miss are those I had with old friends who are far flung across the world. A few are keeping in touch via email and text, but most are not. I have also been taking breaks from the news cycles. I am significantly less depressed as a result. Someone I met with in person started discussing something they had seen on Facebook, then remembered I'm off the platform completely but asked me if I had heard about it. I said no, because I was busy living my life. It felt good to say it out loud. Thanks for sharing.
When I was a spiritual counselor for a hospice program, I looked for direction from patients by finding out what they were experiencing in their lives, as well as what gave them meaning and purpose. An unexpected journey began with a jar filled with milkweed leaves and a chubby caterpillar.
Lucy was fun-loving. A humble person who was frequently grateful for what she had. She celebrated life by giving to others. She was not one to feel sorry for herself, even when she was dying. She was a master gardener. We would page through gardening magazines like children giggling at holiday toy catalogs. One afternoon, after seeing a picture of a monarch butterfly in a magazine, Lucy asked about their life cycle. That evening, my research began. As I scrolled down the seemingly endless pages about monarch butterflies on my computer, I was astonished by how many lessons I could learn. I printed a picture of a milkweed plant to share with her during my next visit.
A few days later, when I returned to her home with the picture, her physical deterioration was quite noticeable. As I summarized what I had learned about the life cycle of the monarch, her lethargy appeared to be replaced with vitality. Before I left, her eyes grew large as she cupped my face with her hands telling me that she had seen milkweed along the roadside. Sure enough, as I drove the country roads back to my office, I noticed a couple of monarch butterflies flying just above a cluster of plants a few miles from her home. I stopped and got out. As I moved closer, I was intrigued by the beautiful fragrance that emerged from the large clumps of pink flowers that crown the towering milkweed plants. I searched for a caterpillar, but found only leaves that had been partially eaten.
A few days later, on my way back to visit Lucy, I returned to the milkweed patch with a large wide-mouthed jar, a piece of netting, and a rubber band. This time I examined the plants thoroughly. Beneath one of the leaves, I discovered a mammoth caterpillar. I pinched off the leaf and placed it in the jar. I took a few extra leaves since I had read about a caterpillar's hearty appetite. When I arrived at Lucy’s home a few minutes later, she seemed thrilled with the new find. She asked me to rinse the extra leaves with cool water, roll them in paper toweling and place them on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
Her exhilaration as she gazed into the jar clearly demonstrated that the experience and expression of joy requires having the heart of a child. We concluded our visit as she continued to stare intently into the jar. As I was opening the door to leave, she called from across the room. As I turned my head to look at her, she said, "I love you." Her eyes were filled with tears. I came back and sat down beside her. This time I gently cupped her face with my hands saying, "And I will love you, always."
The next time I came to her home I found her pointing to the jar that once held the caterpillar. Now, however, it held a green chrysalis encircled with golden thread. I could not have orchestrated the intimate dialogue that followed, the opportunities to address sorrow, regret, and fear. As the chrysalis changed -- becoming dark and then transparent -- she watched with anticipation for the new creature to emerge, and our talks gave way to expressions of hope, joy, and expectancy.
I'll never forget her apprehensive phone call as the monarch was emerging from its chrysalis. "The butterfly is dripping red fluid," she exclaimed, and my role suddenly shifted from counselor to butterfly midwife. All was well, I reassured her. The red fluid was a natural part of the process. As the butterfly dried its wings, she invited a group of family & friends to participate in a "butterfly releasing" party. With care, she removed the netting from the top of the jar, holding the monarch in the palm of her hand until it was ready to take flight.
Lucy’s physical condition deteriorated rapidly after that. I would sit quietly beside her; at times she would open her eyes and smile faintly, reaching for my hand. The last time I saw her, she whispered, "I am getting closer." With a soft voice I questioned, "Closer to what?" She replied, "I am closer to becoming a butterfly.
An encounter that began 20 yrs. ago with a dying woman took shape bringing new life to others through a butterfly giving garden. Since I began the project, hundreds of monarch butterfly have taken flight moving on to bless others with their grace and beauty.
I recognize that which is most precious in life is limitless. Being at peace with ourselves is the ultimate gift we can give another. That may sound contradictory to you during such distressing times in our world. Unless we are at peace, we cannot offer those who are despairing compassion and comfort. What I give seems insignificant until I feel the embrace from someone who is hurting. It is a gentle reminder how the essence of life has guided me from a jar to a sanctuary.
I’m so glad it lifted you, detoo! I posted the story because I needed to get back to that place where transformation takes place and stay focused. I need to remember that caterpillars are as vital to the process as the butterflies. Many adults,I find, do not seem to be attracted to the caterpillar. My experience has been that most are interested in the end result, the beauty of the butterfly. It is the “whole” journey that brings about a new creation.
With the gifts we have been given, we can gently encourage others to open their hearts and minds to know that they are loved. “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make them drink.” Although this is true..you can make them thirsty! And hopefully that is what each of us is called to do in our own unique way.
I was getting caught up in the negativity of current events. My joy was decreasing by the day..like drinking poison hoping your enemy will die.
So, like you, step by step I’m going to do my part each day and embrace life with simplicity and celebrate wonder and beauty wherever and however it shows up.
It has helped to write. Puts language to the process.
OMG what a wonderful story, Stardancer. Thank you for it! While reading your story I kept thinking about the lifespan of monarchs - how the go on a journey from the north of North America and end up mostly in a region of Mexico where they all mix together down there and then fly north again. The thing is that none of them lives through the journey. Their lifespan is too short. So a monarch flies south and lays eggs along the way, then dies a few weeks later. The babies take flight and continue the journey. south, then die and their babies continue on. That's what we do when we make the journey through this life towards doing something good for our progeny, who in turn continue the journey for the next generation.
If you haven't read Barbara Kingsolver's novel-- Flight Behavior, it's a treat. I loved it so much that when I finished it, I read it all over again. It's about monarch butterflies and climate change and a young woman whose life transforms because of the butterflies. Kingsolver has never written a book that wasn't a best seller. She reads the novel herself on tape and is a masterful reader too.
One thing I failed to mention is that you are a prolific and soulful writer. There is so much talent in this community that I am in awe.
I understand completely about getting caught up in the negativity of current events. It can gradually sneak up on you. In my case when I begin to drink the poison, I realize that there is a certain amount of ego that is operating. I see and feel what is happening around me, and I believe that my conclusions are correct. I’ve spent the first half of my life doubting my visions, so maybe I’m making up for lost time. I now trust my subtle, and not-so-subtle perceptions. And let’s face it – regarding our current political climate, you don’t need to be psychic to draw certain conclusions based on the facts. I mean, it’s so obvious – how come so many people out there don’t seem to get it? But even if I am 100% correct, what makes me think that my timing of when justice should prevail, is correct? Is there some sort of divine plan that needs to play out with timing? I don’t know. What I do know is, some of my biggest personal blunders have occurred when I’ve angrily said to myself, “I can’t take this!” And how often have I also said to myself, “I’m so glad I waited” – meaning that the outcome has been better than anything I could have imagined. The fact is, I can take this – with the understanding that I am strong, I can be patient, I don’t know everything, maybe there is a divine plan, and most importantly – we are all co-creators in this life drama. So what kind of co-creator do I wish to be? That’s why your story is so moving, humbling and inspiring to me.
Thanks again, Stardancer.
Sometimes I wonder when justice will prevail, and I realize it takes time. Sometimes days, weeks, months, years, generations, lifetimes, epocs, or eons.
Maybe we are here to learn through these times, and it will all get pieced together in heaven. Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? What matters is how we nourish one another's soul. Thank you for this thread that allows us to ponder.
There are 5 generations of monarch butterflies. Although it is accurate that the monarch migrates from Mexico laying eggs along their way north. However, the 5 th generation of monarch butterflies migrate from Canada and the Northern US in the late summer/early fall making the journey south all the way to Mexico. They will not mate until spring. In the spring the 5th generation will mate in Mexico, the male dies and the female returns to the southern coast of Texas to lay her eggs. The first 4 generations live for 2-3 weeks. The last generation lives 5-6 months.
Fun stuff! I’m excited for their return. You can track them on Journey North/Monarch Butterfly which is an awesome website.
Thanks for the book title..I’ll check it out!
That is great. Hummers’ love milkweed, bees, too! I think I caught on a post that you live on the east coast..Boston area? I may have that wrong. In any case if it is, your late summer/early fall monarch butterflies will migrate all the way to Mexico. They will meet up with other monarchs along the way, forming broods. At night and during rainy weather they will hold up hanging from trees...thousands travel together and hang out together on their journey south.