After my grandfather died I remember walking out of hospice and wondering how the birds were still singing. And how anyone possibly cared about a blue dress and cigars. After my mom died I remember wondering how the world could still possibly spin on its axis. Didn't it at least wobble a little? Because I definitely felt it wobble. I hadn't met the Dalai Lama yet and so I didn't understand.
I woke up this morning and sun was streaming into my bedroom. It was annoyingly glorious for a minute and I lay there and looked at it, wondering how it's possible. Remember Sally from last time? She posted a beautiful picture on Instagram the other day about how the sun always rises. And it did, even though I am 100% positive that the earth wobbled. Side note: I should probably rename this blog something like, "Thoughts Sally Made Me Have." But anyway the sun was streaming into my bedroom, just like that. Just like every other similar point in a 24 hour rotation since whenever the earth got here.
The point is that the earth wobbled FOR ME. It didn't wobble for other people.....I mean I'm also almost 100% positive it wobbled for around 64,654,483 other Americans, and from the news I see, a fair number of people in other countries. But it was just us who felt it. You may not have felt it, and that's important here because since all that stuff with my grandfather and mom happened, I met the Dalai Lama and Pema Chödrön. They taught me that my reactions to things create my reality which is, of course, unique to me.
It's how Buddhist monks fear only that they will forget their jailer's humanity as they're tortured. It's how Nelson Mandela came out of a tragic existence and stayed a man of peace. The real struggle is in remembering the pain and the fear that angry people are showing me. It's not so much that I need to find pity for them, but that I need to remember what they are displaying is a state of living that can't be peaceful or wholeheartedly engaged. They're too busy protecting and gathering in and closing the circle ever smaller, without realizing how big we all get when we make the circle big.
It's going to stay difficult for me to see the hypocrisy, to see people rolling over when they should be standing up, when I see that we have become so binary we can't figure out how to fight with compassion. But that's what we have to do: fight with compassion. First seek to understand our adversary, and then approach the conflict from a place of open hearted engagement. If all I'm doing is shouting louder, I'm no different than the person I call "adversary." And maybe sometimes I'll need to disengage, when the shouting AT me has become too loud, because self-care is important. And I will have to demand that my adversaries respect MY humanity and my position, even as they vehemently disagree with me.
None of that is going to be made "easier" by knowing DL and Pema. But they have provided a road map, and I will strive to always remember that my mindset, my emotions, create my reality. And that's how the sun still shines no matter how many clouds we see.
Check out more of Sally's work at her Instagram account.