Things are looking grim. Aren’t they?

04/09/2012 § Leave a comment

Is it beyond thee to be glad with the gladness of this rhythm? to be lost and tossed and broken in the whirl of this fearful joy? Rabindranath Tagore

I saw via Facebook yesterday a grim message about the state of the planet. It listed all the extremes of weather that we are experiencing this year, Arctic ice loss, rising sea temperatures and other records that are being broken. I also read a Guardian article about the diminishment in sound in the natural world where humans go in to exploit resources. It was entitled “A great silence is settling over the natural world.” Grim stuff indeed.

So why do I, do we, not despair when surrounded by such doom and gloom? Often I know I simply block it out, refuse to look or distract myself. I change the channel, eat something, chat to somebody, read something. Sometimes I let my mind trick me into thinking we can avoid the pain, we can find some way out. Yet I feel deep inside it is not possible. There’s too much momentum sending us over the cliff to think we can turn away from the edge in time.

But occasionally I allow myself to be with it, to sit for a while with the pain and suffering that we are collectively causing to ourselves and other living creatures. This is a scary place to go. It hurts. I feel a deep love of life on this planet, English beech forests, chalk downlands, tropical rainforests, coral reefs, rhinoceroses, dung beetles, grasshoppers, mosquitoes, cowslips, poppies, waterlilies, beetroot and broad beans. And for Englishmen playing cricket, Indians bathing in the Ganges, Russians lounging in their dachas, the French in their restaurants, the Japanese drinking tea, the Americans in their pick-ups, people everywhere in markets, on beaches, working in the fields, making love, doing the dishes, wandering through the tall grass dreaming. All the myriad ways in which life presents itself on our planet. To see all this threatened is deeply upsetting.

Yet when I allow myself to be with this for a while, I find that I do not despair. I remind myself that we were born out of pain, that this physical form has appeared out of stardust and heat and light and sound and energy, all bashed together millions and billions of years ago. Nothing is really under threat. All that is happening is change, and life is not life without change.

Pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses our understanding” as Kahlil Gibran put it. Life is in constant flux. Pain comes from clinging onto outdated forms, old habits, old attachments. If we can only trust in life, accept it in every moment, which is different from the previous moment and will be different from every future moment, then we can free ourselves up to laugh, to explore, to experiment, to be. So we find peace. Even in the most troubling times.

There – I can find peace at any time.  I simply need to choose it.


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