The Patience to Wait for Courage: A Meditation

by jordan wooley jrwooley6

photo by jordan wooley (jrwooley6 on flickr, creative commons)

So I sit in the forest, this place of astonishing beauty that I pretend for now is my place, preparing to meditate. “I am the open-source collaborative project of trillions of cells”, I tell myself. “My brain is a complicity of the separately-evolved creatures in my body evolved for their mutual benefit. My ‘self’ is not coherent, just an emergent property of my body’s semi-autonomous processes. Now I am just going to listen to, pay attention to, my body, my senses, my instincts, the trillions of cells that never get an audience up here in the hermetic chamber of my brain, that small conceited 1% of my cells that presumes to be ‘me’.” Mantra.

I ask myself: What would I do if I weren’t fearful, if I were really connected? My instincts often tell me what I need to know, the real truth, before I feel it, before I think it, make ‘sense’ of it. What do these instincts tell me now? They speak to me, sometimes, mostly in the calm of night, in a beautiful, peaceful, confident female voice, a voice full of joy and clarity, with the undercurrent of a swallow’s song. Here is what they say:

No one is to blame. I am not to blame. We are all doing the best we can, even those of us who are damaged to the point of pathology. We are all ‘trying to get better’ in one sense or another. No one is in control. Nothing can ‘save’ this used up, worn out, teetering, overextended civilization, even if we wanted to; it’s going to collapse, and force us all into a ragged shift, a Great Migration, a dark reckoning. But we have time to rest, fight small battles, and experiment before we have to face that.

I am, for now, driven by aversion and not intention. That’s OK. I’m still exhausted, and it’s going to take time to recover from many decades of trying so hard to be who I’m not. No use to the world broken, depressed, paralyzed by anxiety. Just breathe, rest, heal.

With all the sorrow and grief I carry, the trauma I’ve worked through, bewildered and alone, it’s no surprise I’m fearful, settling for contentment instead of real happiness. No wonder I choose the numb addiction to analgesic endorphins, bliss-inducing norepinephrine, ecstatic phenylethylamine, deceiving oxytocin, calming serotonin, rewarding dopamine, and stimulating testosterone, over any real connection, real presence. Safe in my garden. Hard to imagine being any other way, when you’re under the influence of such disarming drugs.

Yet my instincts know there is another way of being, one that is more truly me; I catch glimpses of it sometimes when I’m not trying too hard.

I know this time of exhaustion and disconnection and indecision will pass. I must have the patience to wait for courage. We will all find courage when we must; that’s the nature of our species. No heroes before their time. No heroes, period. Just looking after the needs of the moment, which will become clear as they become overwhelming. When it’s time to take risks, to let go of everything, to tear down the walls, to fly, we will know, and we will do what we must.

Things I will do when I am no longer fearful: move to a warmer, wilder place (my body craves this); flirt shamelessly and joyfully; fall in love dangerously; write, invite and fight courageously. What difference all this will make I do not know. These are not my choices, but things the me-that-I’ll-become will have to do.

There are some practices that are not hard or hopeless, that will help me prepare for what’s next. Practices that evoke that magic merging of relaxation and awareness. Night walks. Quiet conversations about things that really matter, with people who understand. Lights: candles, path lights, lanterns, street-lamps, moonlight, sunlight through the trees and bouncing off the water, infinite starlight. Sad songs. Play. Laughter. Time with wild creatures and young children. More of all these, please. Put them in the calendar; don’t just wait for them to happen.

My instincts are, it seems, always right. They are ‘me’ more than my intellectual self or my emotional self or my physical self are, so I suppose they must be right, for me. I may not yet be quite ready to follow them, but it won’t be long. Change coming, ready or not.

Breathe, concentrate, focus. Let go, and slowly rise.

Themes for this meditation/reflection: Self-knowledge, self-awareness, self-acceptance, attention, appreciation, imagining possibilities, patience, openness, trusting intuition, acceptance, healing, anticipation without expectation, practice.

Deep breath, that turns into a sigh. Walk back up the hill to prepare supper.

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5 Responses to The Patience to Wait for Courage: A Meditation

  1. Inspiring words, thoughts and actions.

  2. Beautiful. Timely.
    Your words evoke a sense of peacefulness and rightness within me. Thank you for walking the path you’re on and shining the light of words on it. They may inspire me (and others?) to join you in dance, writing, playing, enjoying the light dancing on the pond, feeling cold dew on feet, laying naked in the grass…mmm. Yes.

  3. Beverly says:

    Yes! No effort, simply be.

  4. Chelsea says:

    Hi Dave,
    Thank you for your writing, it is nice to know that others are waking up to the truths of the time we live in. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one, as no one that I know is willing to talk much about it. But then again I can’t blame them, what is there to say? It is depressing.
    I am currently angry about the world and am having a very hard time moving on with my life – I don’t know what I can do to help. My instincts are confusing: I want kids, but I know that bringing more people into the world won’t help anything, and I don’t think the world will be good to them anyway. I want to do something important with my life and have enjoyed making decent money in my career, but my body also tells me to sit in the rainforest for as long as I can, maybe forever, until it is gone anyway. Would being a hermit really be a fulfilling life?
    How did you get past the anger? I can’t seem to connect with people anymore, probably in part because something inside of me blames humanity for what we are now facing. I am angry when people eat meat. I am angry when people throw garbage into the streets and water. For the way that people live and the things that they think are important (looking nice, having nails and hair done, driving fancy cars and owning big TV’s). But then again, I cannot come up with any solutions to anything, and no matter what I do I feel guilty for being a part of the problem, just by existing. I can’t think of a better way to live in this world now with these 7+ billion people on this planet. How can you look anyone in the eyes and see anything good? How can you look in the mirror?
    Thank you for your thoughts, I hope I haven’t been too honest

  5. Dave Pollard says:

    Wow, Chelsea, quite the adventure you’re in the midst of! You ask how I got past the anger? I guess I’ve always believed that people want to do their best, and that the damage we do is out of a combination of ignorance and illness, and I can’t blame anyone for either — they’re both pretty endemic conditions of human society. Mostly I think I realized my anger was at heart anger at myself and my inability to ‘fix’ the world’s complex predicaments. Once I realized they’re insoluble and forgave myself, it became much easier to stop being angry with and blaming others.

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