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Moving forward when I cannot see

Yesterday I wrote about what I could see on a beautiful sunny day. Some days are like that. There is light, a brightness that reflects clarity. I can see, near and far. On these days I get a brief glimpse, or flash, of clarity, of where we are now in relation to where we can go.

Many days my mind’s eye has difficulty seeing.

The day after President Trump incited his followers to march down to the US Capital for what would become the first insurrection of the Capital since 1812 when the British invaded, and the first time ever that the attacks would be from within the nation, a friend of ours was out in her neighborhood and at a local nail salon, where she was confronted by passionate supporters of Donald Trump, their belief in him, and that the way they saw it, the election had been stolen.

On the day of the inauguration, a friend/colleague copied a post of a list of economic and political markers of the successes of the last four years. It was a woefully deceptive and incomplete list designed to tell a story of the way the originator, and my friend, see things that does not resemble the way I see things.

It is so clear to me that people around me, do not see things in the way I do.

Anand Giridharadas, just 2 days after the insurrection at the US Capital wrote in his article, “We are falling on our face because we are jumping high”:

"When I look down at the ground of the present right now, I feel depressed. If I lift my head to the horizon, I see a different picture. This is not the chaos of the beginning of something. This is the chaos of the end of something."

I can actually imagine a horizon where there are more people of color than white in the USA, or my country of origin, Canada, where I lived for the first 50 years of my life. What I have not yet been able to see, is the nature and quality of our relationships within that mix.

US Historian, Jon Meacham, references the early church historian St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.), as having the clearest definition of a nation,

“a multitude of rational beings united by the common objects of our love.”

It is a loaded definition. “Rational beings”... this past four years has demonstrated the fragility of rational, when the tangible “facts” can be shifted, moved, deleted to tell different stories. “United”... even though it is included in the name of this nation, or our friends across the pond in the United Kingdom, history will tell us that neither have ever been truly united. “Common objects of our love”, leaves me perplexed, because while I can know what and how I love, and I can recognize others who love in similar things in similar ways, I also see many who do not share a common love for the same objects.

I have relied on my ability to see to keep me moving forward...seeing beauty, envisioning something to work toward, observations of where I am now. Anyone who has ever paddled on a long canoe trip, climbed a mountain, flown in a plane, or traveled at sea, knows that there are many times when seeing fails us.

One of the key positive take aways in Anand Giridharadas article is that here in the United States of America,

...we might remember — just to pat ourselves on the back for a second — that what we are actually endeavoring to do right now is to become a kind of society that has seldom, if ever, existed in history. Which is become a majority-minority, democratic superpower.

We face the challenge of trying to create something that we have never seen. In fact, the intersection of global challenges of pandemics, climate change, the international flow of people and money, and the proliferation of nuclear arms, leaves the entire world with a need to create something we have never seen. Failure and discomfort will be a regular part of this creative process.

In response to those who would seek meditation as a road to comfort and peace, Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa famously said:

“The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is, there’s no ground.”

While I have moments when my attention, and my eyes are drawn to beauty, love, and peace, I have many where I am clouded.

So when I/we cannot see, I/we need to discover other ways of moving forward toward becoming whole. I would love to know how you find your way.

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