Last week, I went to bed on Wednesday with awareness that a massive war was being unleashed on Ukraine, by an egotistical, angry, little madman in Russia, cheered on by angry irresponsible pundits and and politicians here in the United States.
The next morning I was drawn to read "Wendell Berry’s Advice for a Cataclysmic Age" a New Yorker article about Wendell Berry, who is now 87 years old-- a writer, poet, farmer, family man, community member, environmentalist, and teacher, living on a farm outside a small village in rural Kentucky.
I think I need the clarity and sanity that can only come from stillness, quiet, and and awareness of connectedness.
The Peace Of Wild Things When despair grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting for their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
(Watch, the 2016 film Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry)
Despair makes sense in these fear filled, anger and rage fueled times. AND we need to find sanity in the midst of it.
I have long associated the word stupid to people and circumstances of our times, not in a judgmental way, but as a descriptor. I link stupid with the word stupor.
stupor - a condition of greatly dulled or completely suspended sense or sensibility
stupid - given to unintelligent decisions or acts : acting in an unintelligent or careless manner
We are surrounded by stupid.
Anger and rage festers, and explodes. Media channels fuel our addiction to it. People are drunk with it, trapped in a stupor that leads to stupid, putting our own survival at risk. The echo chamber is filled with Donald Trump's trumpeting disdain for democracy; a " fight for freedom" in reaction to a viral pandemic; and now a military invasion of a sovereign country, with hundreds of thousands of lives (if not millions, even all of us) in the balance.
As her country, Ukraine is invaded, 15-year-old Irina M. creates "Art for Peace", giving form to sanity and beauty in the midst of the madness of destruction.
I cannot imagine what she faces in her young life, with all of those who she loves.
Yesterday I listened to Igor Novikov, a former advisor to Ukranian President Volodomyr Zellensky. (hear the full interview with MSNBCs Nicole Wallace) He shared the state of life, death, and devastation in his country 7 days after the full fledged Russian invasion. He spoke of the quiet moments of awareness that can appear, and give strength for the next step.
One positive to come out of this war is the fact that you get to enjoy the little things you didn't notice...Today, I got my first opportunity to shave. So I'm clean shaven. And look, I shave daily. And you know, it's not a big deal. I drink coffee daily. I eat oranges daily. I go for a walk daily. But now because of the scarcity that's created by the war, it all tastes so good. It will feel so good. It's incredible. I mean, you live life to the fullest and like look, that gives you strength to solve this situation.
I don't yet know what I can do in the face of stupid. But finding moments to be still and quiet, making room for awareness of what to do next seems to be important.
"True intelligence operates silently. Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found." Eckhardt Tolle, Stillness Speaks