I‘m going to be in England for the next week, so blogging may be intermittent.
I thought this might be a good time to reflect on this year, and wish everyone who stops by here a peaceful and comfortable and fulfilling and joyful holiday season.
This is the year my book, three years in the writing, finally came out. When people ask me who I am, now, I say: I am a writer. If you know of anyone trying to decide what they were meant to do in this world and this life, please consider getting them a copy of Finding the Sweet Spot. I do not expect it to be a best-seller, but many people have told me that it is really useful to (as Patti Digh would put it) “just get them started” on the road to meaningful, responsible, sustainable, joyful work, to discover their Purpose, their Gifts and their Passions. This is important, lifelong learning and discovery. Details on getting the book are in the right sidebar. For those that have already done so, thank you.
This is the second anniversary of the chronic illness (ulcerative colitis) that changed my life’s direction for good, and for the good. I have learned to be good to myself, to live (more) in the moment, to stop expecting and resolving and start intending and just practicing. I have learned to look after my own health and to pay attention to my body. I exercise regularly. I work standing up. I eat vegetarian and (mostly) organic, for the good of my body and of the world. I am no longer trying to save the world, which cannot be saved but is still a wondrous and delightful place to spend a bit of time, and now I spend my time practicing doing nine things, a little better each day, nine things I love doing, in a way I’ve learned to do them well, and in the process making the world a little better for those I love and work with, those in my communities, and being a model that I hope others will see value in adapting.
This is a year in which I’ve focused a lot of attention on what is really happening in the world, and what is really possible, and also introspectively getting to know myself better, what makes me tick, and what makes me unhealthy and anxious. I’ve become aware that I love to fall in love and to love, but I struggle with the responsibility and tacit/explicit expectations that come with being loved, respected, admired, and in a position of authority. I believe I am afraid of intimacy, and caring too much, and responsibility, and afraid of letting people down. I am driven more by fears than needs, of which I think I have few; I seem somewhat unusual in this. I intend to discover what lies behind these fears, and discharge them.
These fears lie behind much of my personal anxiety, which is compounded by what I see everywhere as a broad malaise of anxiety. I am learning to cope with this double dose of anxiety, and my unbearable grief for Gaia, and now, to a lesser or greater extent, I am happy, content, comfortable. I am on my way, where I am intended to go, and that is enough.
One of the things that eases my anxiety and makes me more comfortable with my situation is thinking about those I love, those I know, even those I have never met, who live with burdens that are so overwhelming I cannot begin to imagine how they cope. Those who live in daily fear of real and deadly threats. Those who have responsibilities that are overwhelming and thankless and inescapable and endless, looking after those who cannot look after themselves. Those who are suffering or abused, with no escape in sight, or who have been and are still living with the legacy of that torment. Those who are (as I once was) dealing everyday with the Noonday Demon, depression. Those who live their lives in constant physical pain. Those who are without help, or without hope.
How dare I be anxious or angry or unhappy about my lot when so many face burdens and ordeals so much harsher and more enduring? In the face of all this anguish and all these challenges, I believe those of us with the time, space, resources and insight should be doing one of two things: Either fighting as hard as we can, against all odds and adversity, to make the world a better place; or creating something new (as Bucky Fuller put it), a model of a better way to live that works around all these problems and renders the systems and situations that gave and give rise to them obsolete. My guess is that I’m better suited for the latter course, and I am now turning more of my time and attention to creative works — my novel The Only Life We Know, and musical compositions and films — that will help people imagine a better way to live and make a living. My enthusiasm for Natural Enterprise remains strong, while that for Natural (Intentional) Community is waning somewhat, because I think my vision for them was too idealistic.
I’d love to hear, either by reference to your own blog postings or through conversation, what you have learned in the past year and how that is changing how you see the world and what you intend to do. I see the next couple of years as a kind of dress rehearsal for what Jim Kunstler calls the Long Emergency that I think we will face in the coming decades. We still have some time to practice, before the work really starts to get hard and the struggle to cope with the sunset of our civilization begins in earnest.
May this season and the year ahead bring you love and learning and contentment and joy.
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.