21st March 2011
Today is the 80th day of the year.
The first day of Spring? Apparently the invitation for Spring to join us was lost.
Earlier this morning the terrace was slick and wet with rain. For a few moments a sweep of ill-formed sloppy snowflakes visited us. They did not linger nor stick to the Stone Sage Lion, and were neither peaceful nor inspirational. Today my view is grey, gloomy — damp with the mockery that the calendar date has betrayed me. We are in a world without much peace on this the 80th day of the year. March began quietly enough, but the Lion fooled us, and only appeared to be walking lightly across the globe. The roars and heavy paws came later. I wish for the protective force of the Lion and not this ferocity. We are all hard at it now and things are hard upon us. Softness is not a context I can easily locate. I have written about my life with chronic illness. A friend named it: This Chronic Life. Our world is unwell today – many suffer, death hovers in Asia and in Libya. We have little room left to remember that there remains the daily suffering and anguish of so many without homes, food, jobs, those in mourning, those who are sick, millions forever separated from families –and those who suffer the heartbreak of loneliness and depression. I feel lost within it all – I continue to be numbed by the reality of the news, which is not the fantasy-driven so-called Reality T.V. Reality television presumably entertains; Reality itself is not at all entertaining.
This first year of the second decade of the 21st century turned old before it began. There is weariness and worry about so much suffering and an expressed sense of confusion and loss of hope for so many. Japan turned from a natural disaster to one further exacerbated by the spilling of radiation from manmade reactors. Libya is in flames, from within and without. Debates will continue apace about what can stop the radiation spills from poisoning the earth, the plants, the air, the people and all creatures. — An already weeping Japan finds ways to cope with the additional overlay of radioactivity and the crisis it poses. For those who are old, the ghosts of World War II haunt. There is much print and televised chatter about how to avoid these accidents in the future for the rest of the world. Politicians and world leaders, and foreign policy experts from various countries combined with terrorism scholars and thinkers will continue to discuss, explain and argue about Libya. The rest of us swirl around in what has become a world of seeming chaos, some of us asking: are we near catastrophe or has it arrived?
I have been brought back to a place of thoughtfulness, if not comfort, by two quotes. The first one came to me from Joan D. Stamm.
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered:
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
The other is from my friend Toni Bernhard, the author of How To Be Sick. She has taught me many things, and made me aware of the writings and life of Thich Nhat Hanh. The following Toni says she used as a “morning vow” for herself. I’m trying to do this as well, to center myself in order to move forward with life and in compassion and to work harder against the temptation to judge others.
From Thich Nhat Hanh: “Waking up this morning, I smile knowing there are 24 brand new hours before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”
Smiling and laughing present a challenge for me today, yet I know life is to be lived, to savor and be grateful. Each moment provides a possibility of surprise and renewal. Despite these times, I want to hold images that remind me that change is possible and the goal of becoming a truly global community are both still within our reach. I spoke to Michael in the last days about what I might say on From this Terrace for this Monday the 21st. I asked him to write with his photographs, and he offers these for all of us.
We come together on this the 80th day of our year, within a weary and violent time, and ask for the strength to continue to see lightness, to strengthen our faith to search for the best within each other, even if we never meet, to embrace and not to confront, to turn from the insanity of hatred and toward the joy of love for all. To move into the happiness our individual existence provides, to step away from the relentless chase for only material satisfaction. To fight against the ego-driven life and to silence the part of us that clamors to be heard by screaming “But what’s in this for ME?” – Let us instead look for ways to be of use to others as well as ourselves. To reside fully and completely within the moments of our days, as they exist and compose the rhythms of the entirety of the lives we are allotted.
©2011 Alida Brill From This Terrace