Mind Matters — Hope for 2010

Let me start 2010 with what I wrote in January, 2009 (but never published):

The jet gliding down on to the Hudson was my return to hope. Days before the inauguration, this landing was auspiciously metaphorical for us all. Our country, as well as the world, seems to have lost its engines, its power and we are taking a global nosedive – economically, spiritually, and physically. Our destruction of our physical world (and who knows where geese and their seeming lack of migration fits into this) gives us global warming. Economically, greed has run us dry. Spiritually, we have the hubris to believe that God is on “our side” against whatever “them” fits our egocentric system.

How comforting to see that instead of us all crashing like Icarus from a grandiose flight of melting wings that tumbles us to a tragic destiny, we instead have a human consciousness of leadership that integrates wisdom to land us safely onto water. Okay stretch the metaphor even further. We are stunned by this icy plunge - traumatized and wounded yet alive. The icy water shocks us into ourselves, and helpers surround us coming quickly to our rescue. Ferry boats, their employees and their passengers, the Coast Guard and all the wondrous things they do all arrive to welcome our survival.

This was an actual event in time, yes. Yet I believe the timing is significant as well. Days before a historical inauguration of profound significance we may allow ourselves the pleasure of making this event part of our own psychological journey into hope.

We are, the world is, wounded and stumbling and we do need an icy plunge into the river of reality to know there is much that needs to change if we are to bequeath this planet to our children and grandchildren. Wake up world – the crises we have created have become our opportunities for re-creation. We can consider the common good of all – not the few – again. We can consider that while conflict will always be part of the human condition, violence is not. That non-violent means to resolve conflict is the high road to be taken. That we are not isolates each in our own little universes – we are all connected in a web of life. Ignoring our wanton ways with the planet wounds us all.

The icy plunge of a plane into the Hudson was our collective wake up call. Wise leadership guided that craft to its safe landing; others who could help saw the need and responded. Consider our new leadership with President Obama in the White House – he has been given the task to guide us through these difficult times; we need to respond where we can, and at the very least we need to wake up to what has become our own icy plunge. Alive, but no longer living the grandiosity of adolescent Icarus.

January, 2009, started with hope. We’ve had numerous metaphorical icy plunges since then, both in our personal lives, and in the world.So, what do I hope for in 2010?

One, recognize that disagreements and conflict are a part of life at every level from the individual to the family to the world. Yet, also recognize that dialogue and understanding, rather than violence and revenge and retaliation, are the tools we need to settle our differences.

Two, look for our heroes and heroines in all the right places. Do look to those large figures such as Nelson Mandela (I recommend the movie, Invictus), who prod us to find our own greatness. Then indeed note your greatness and that of the invisible hero next to you. What isn’t heroic about the consistent care of a nursing assistant who wipes bottoms and then some? Or the cleaning crew for the turnpike bathroom? Or the trash collector? Consider how life would be without the heroics of the everyday? Forget the “reality” shows. Forget the addiction to superficial celebrity. They are meant to distract us from the real life of putting one foot in front of the other and carrying on.

As the Buddhists say, what do you do before Enlightenment? “Chop wood, carry water.” What do you do after enlightenment? “Chop wood, carry water.” In other words, we are not transported to another realm, we just manage to see better what is already here, life now to be lived and loved.