On my perpetually long and expanding “to do list” is….write a piece about my feelings and perspective on the upcoming elections. So, here goes. Welcome to my world:
The Nicole Zen Zone
I do not consume or participate much in the mainstream media realm. I do not own a television. I do not watch any kind of news. I do not listen to any kind of news. I no longer listen to NPR, the BBC, or any other program when news is on. It is not really news. It is the information streamed and filtered through the extremely flawed and fractured lenses of whomever is in charge of that particular stream of information. I am not a conspiracy theorist who believes everyone is evil and has a plan to take over the government or brainwash all of us. Nevertheless, I do think that what we listen to, watch and consume visually and auditorily impacts us as much as what we eat.
Folks who would NEVER eat a Twinkie or a huge plate of really deep-fried weird ugly food that looks stale and smells bad, somehow have no problem consuming huge amounts of vile information and imagery. You cannot watch, listen to, or engage with ugliness and fear without it impacting you. It has the same effect on our systems as if we ate poison. But somehow folks feel that they have to “be informed,” “be educated,” “be aware” and be “on top of it.” It’s unlikely we can ever fully be any of these things.
There’s also the intense addiction and thrill that violent television, gaming and movies engender. The thrill seeking, fear-inducing, sexually stimulating survival based urges which drive much of the hunger for this kind of entertainment is part of the tainted stream that makes folks numb to violence. It gets to children early and hooks them on violent, angry stimuli. It encourages a complete lack of consequences related to aggression and violence. Poison, Poison, Poison.
The idea that we are informed by soundbites is strange to me. Anyone educated knows that all information we receive online, on television, on the airwaves is coming through massive filters. We don’t see the streams and rivers of those filters, but we know many folks with massive educations and degrees and money have made very clear decisions about colors, sounds, visual displays, timing, the color of skin of the folks presenting, which particular story gets to go first, second, third, etc…. The amount of stuff going on behind the scenes of all news or film is truly massive. Yet, folks forget this and are just drawn in, which is exactly what the folks in charge of all these streams of information want. If you are drawn in, you are hooked. If you are hooked you are stimulated. If you are stimulated, you are committed to whatever energetic activity or action the information you just swallowed has created inside of your mind and heart.
When we listen to music we love, or see folks we love, or participate in some activity that gives us joy, we feel good. I do not understand why folks think consuming or watching ugliness is any different. It is like eating poison. If we choose to watch repetitively and deceptive polls and statistics, that are touted as the most important critical piece of information, while they incrementally shift second by second by second, we are ingesting fear. The information being collected by huge systems and organizations that are behind the curtains have very strong agendas and desires that are not about informing us, but are about generating more of our engagement and stimulating us. The collective media engines and the powers behind them need us to be hooked in order to ensure their ongoing existence. It’s not news, it’s statistics.
“There’s lies, damn lies and statistics.” -Mark Twain
I have no issue with reading the news in a visual format or in watching an in-depth program addressing something relevant cogently and with accuracy. Indeed, as long as the story is not a sound-bite, I do actually consume news this way. I have written for The Arcata Eye and the Mad River Union. I love the newspaper. It is vitally necessary to be informed. I am not advocating a blithe naive attitude or that we shouldn’t care or know what is going on. We absolutely must engage with the information that is relevant to our lives. How we do that though is up to us and we can be more choiceful than we are.
I endeavor to have a boundary around my consumption of all that is flawed, broken, unfolding in crisis or ugly. I don’t automatically have those streams of information coming in. I choose when and where I am going to engage based on my energy level, how many folks I am taking care of on any particular day, and what is actually happening for me. If there is an emergency, of course, I would listen to the radio to know where to go and what to do.
Barring an emergency though, I avoid ugliness in the media and stories about murders and violations of any kind. I am extremely sensitive and if I read about or see an image of something gruesome or someone raped or murdered, it enters me physically. I literally feel it in my body. So, I cannot just blithely consume what others do without hesitation. The thing is, just because other folks don’t have my hyper-sensitivity doesn’t mean they aren’t being impacted.
There are no actions in the universe that we can take or do that do not have consequences. Every action has a ripple. Every choice we make has an outcome. Everything we eat, see, hear, touch, breathe, and experience imprints on us and continues to impact us sometimes invisibly.
So, instead of consuming poison and anger and fear and stupidity visually and auditorily, I choose to use the same time to pray for a good outcome for our country. I choose to surround all the players with light and love. I choose to hope and trust that the right outcome will unfold. AND if the person I don’t want to be President becomes president, I will have to trust that this is because the Holy One has a plan I cannot comprehend. This is actually always the situation.
I am not advocating just doing nothing. I am a firm believer in always voting and always contributing to the campaigns and organizations that we believe in and support. But the OUTCOME of huge and even tiny things has very little to do with my participating in this flawed cycle of massive information guzzling and grinding through all of our lives. There are forces at work, that are so much greater than my ability to comprehend them. I have to cede all finally large and strange outcomes, to The Holy Maker of this amazingly perplexing universe, this Olam Ha Ze/This World Here.
Once I do this, I move from scared to, sacred.
I recognize that I am not in charge or in control. This is huge for me. I have agency and power to make a difference, but I am not responsible for the end result. I also refuse to let the negative energy and fear that others live in or experience take up residence in my mind. The only way I can prevent the fears and flaws from influencing me in corrupted and insidious ways is if I fill my heart and mind with something loving, kind, mindful, good or prayerful.
I don’t want subtle and subversive streams of junk in my heart and mind. I will be fearful when I am standing before the abyss, when my family members or friends are in danger, when someone I love is crossing the street and a truck is heading for them. I will be afraid when I think about how fracking is destroying the blood-streams of our mother earth and how our rivers and streams are still full of toxins. I will be angry every time a person is violated, tortured, beaten, disrespected and treated as less than a Holy Vessel by anyone anywhere on this planet, but I will not spend all of my time thinking about all this horror. I will swim in the stream of pain when it is required of me. When I can make a difference in an outcome and my physical and emotional presence is required, then I will be right in the middle of the ugliest, scariest and worst stuff, no hesitation whatsoever.
The rest of the time, I will be making salves to heal broken skin, or syrups to soothe angry throats. I will be making soups for my friends with cancer or who are feeling unwell. I will sew heart-shaped pillows and fill them with lavender and rose petals from my garden. I will offer prayers of healing to all those who are unwell on my prayer-list. I will pray for our country and the world. Instead of listening to the angry voices and hating the players, I will imagine them, yes even the one I don’t want to be President, and surround them with love and light and ask the Angels and the Holy One to keep them safe and help their hearts to soften or be strong. I will pray for whomever is in a position of power to listen to their hearts and to the voice of Holiness that speaks for kindness and correction of flawed behavior. I will pray for Tikkun Olam/Mending the World, for folks to heal and mend what they have broken or what is torn asunder.
On Tuesday, November 8th, 2016 instead of being glued to a TV screen in fear, anticipation or giddiness, I will sit in meditation for several hours, with one of my teachers and friends. I will be with others, who like me, choose to use our prayers. our mindfulness and our connection to Holiness be the way we navigate our fears and our desires. We will chant and pray and sit in stillness. I will ask for Loving-Kindness to be a permanent president in residence in the heart of whomever gets elected.
Then, when I emerge, if things go the way I wish for them to go, I will be relieved, but not done caring or praying for all the people in this crazy story. If, when I emerge, things don’t go the way I wish, then I will know that my understanding of the universe and the Divine is once again inadequate.
And on the note of disastrous outcomes, let’s be honest. Most of us do not change our behaviors or habits until the last-minute, when it’s so bad that we have to make a shift. How many folks actively seek out personal growth and correction before there is a problem? How many folks have time for this when they are working full-time jobs for miserable wages and cannot feed their families?
So, if things get horrible here, which is my fear, it will be the catalyst for a greater change than we can imagine. Change is never easy. It is always dangerous and fraught. So, there will be a lot of turmoil and difficulty, kind of like a hard labor, one with complications. I’ve had two of those. I have two beautiful sons as a result of that kind of labor. We don’t know what more labor pains our country and the world have to go through before EVERYONE on this planet and all the BEINGS on this planet are honored and loved. I believe in that Olam Ha Bah/World to Come . The distance between here and there is the thinnest of veils. This world here, where we live, walk, eat and dream can be Heaven, a Heaven here on Earth. It’s a place we create and make real. It isn’t just a destination post our deaths. It’s a garden we have to cultivate and tend to now and everyday.
Holy One, please help us remove the veils from our eyes, get rid of the film over our vision. Help us to create the world we want and to work for justice and goodness all the days of our lives.
May your fears be allayed, may your hearts be open, may your mind be calm.