Many of us are feeling anxious, afraid, and unsettled right now. These are heartbreakingly hard times that we are facing in 2020, but we are not powerless. It’s a harmful illusion to think that we are without choice in our lives, or that we lack the ability to act with courage and love. Life has always been like this: a paradox where we don’t always have control, but we do have choices. We can control our own attitude toward what happens to us, individually and collectively. That is our true power.
In a recent women’s writing circle that I joined, we considered how each of us could use our writing skills to support and contribute to the well-being of our families, our neighborhoods, and our communities. Our discussions focused on imagining a new tomorrow, and we agreed that two attributes are necessary if we are to be positive role models and loving change agents in this time of chaos: we need to demonstrate peacefulness, and stability.
- Peacefulness comes from a sense of gratitude; we count our blessings in the face of our difficulties. We seek to discover the silver lining in the face of our losses. We sense a deeper purpose in our struggles and believe that there is hope in our future. We practice inner calm that lets us speak and behave in non-violent ways, while seeking peaceful solutions to conflict. Our reflected inner peace brings a subtle aura of peace that others can feel and draw from. The more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in the world.
- Stability is shown by consistency in our reactions, so that others can rest in the comfort of knowing that we are there bringing quiet reassurance, and strength when it is needed, and compassion for the pain of others. We are all interconnected. That is the truth of how things are. When we are mindfully aware, listening with patience, we find opportunities to help. Our steadfast presence moves us, and moves through others, to contribute to the conscience of our community. Our stable presence is like a living prayer that beauty and justice will prevail.
I spent some time thinking about how those two qualities could be translated into everyday life and here are three concrete things we each can do to increase love and reduce fear in our lives:
Spend time in the peacefulness of nature – As often as you can, go for walks outside; consider a “forest bathing” trip to a local state, or city, park where you can slowly walk in the woods, immerse yourself in the sights, smells, and sounds of nature’s beauty, and focus your attention on the serenity that it offers. The aim of taking a therapeutic adventure in nature is to intentionally engage your senses and deepen your grateful presence and love for this living Earth. By slowing down, being in the moment, breathing, and relaxing, you are acknowledging your wholeness as a human being and receiving the unconditional love that nature gives generously to all living things on earth. Her bounty is enduring, and that quality influences the acceptance of our own place in the world, and our capacity to gratefully respect nature as one of our best role models for loving ourselves and others.
Mend the broken part of the world closest to you. Use your talents in the service of others. For example, as an older woman writer I can share my love and wisdom as a community elder; I can contribute insights gained from my life experiences through stories told on my website, in ongoing Zoom presentations, in monthly blogs like this one, and via individual and group coaching. These are my tools of expression that share a clear purpose: to inspire, and to use what I have learned to light the way for others. In darkness there is a tendency to become overwhelmed by trying to fix the entire world at once, but in the light, we can see what needs to be mended that is within our reach.
Stand up and show your brave and loving soul. When you stand for what you believe in, your soul blazes like a radiant candle, sending off sparks that illuminate the darkness with signal fires that can be seen at a distance. Others will catch light from your flame and be inspired to add their incandescence to yours, generating the shared strength to not look away from all that is breaking our hearts, but to discern what is needed most now, and acting on it. This is the history of progress to which we are heirs; it is how the world has always been changed.
Previous pandemics have compelled human beings to see the cracks in their systems that needed repair, and to break with the past in order to reimagine a new world. The current pandemic serves that same purpose; it is a doorway, a gateway, a passageway that connects our past with our future. It is a bold invitation for humanity to reject what no longer works for the good of all of us. As we choose love over fear, and peace over turmoil, we strengthen our courage to heal our sorrow, and animate the shared vision of a new world of possibilities.