To many people, I probably appear fairly laid back and as someone who goes with the flow. What they don’t know is that I harbor a secret love of spreadsheets and calendars. Whether it is organizing a practice or workshop down to the minute, or making travel plans months in advance, there is a part of me (most of me) that is always thinking ahead.
If you asked an astrologer for an explanation, she/he may tell you that it is because my sun, moon, and rising sign are all the fiery-archer Sagittarius, which is always looking ahead to the target, and the organizing and detail-oriented aspects of Virgo are in my Midheaven, which relates to my career or life path.
Whatever the reason, for most of my adult life, I have focused on the future. However, with all of the chaos and uncertainty in the world right now (take your pick – climate change, political and civil unrest, continued wars and threats of new ones, to name a few), I am finding it very difficult to make plans beyond a day or two.
Rather than let this uncertainty turn into overwhelming, paralyzing anxiety, I have decided to embrace it and have found these gifts in the process:
Being More Present
Spiritual teachers across all faiths talk about the importance of living in the present. As I open up to being in the now, I am better able to savor life. Walks with my dog have become less focused on checking my to-do list for the week on my phone, or the latest posts on Facebook, and more about noticing what is blooming, and what types of birds are in the trees. As a result, I can’t help but feel grateful for the beauty that surrounds me. This gratitude is life-affirming and grounding, an antidote to the sense of foreboding.
We have been told that during stressful and threatening times, our options are either “fight or flight.” However, studies have shown that females may have evolved their own stress response in order to protect themselves while they were pregnant, nursing, or caring for offspring. Instead of the fight-or-flight response, females’ response to stress is “tend-and-befriend.” In the last two months, I have gathered more often with people in my community than I have during the busiest holiday-party season. We have whined with wine, commiserated over lunch, gathered for discussions and town meetings, and marched in demonstrations. I don’t know what the outcome of all of these actions will be, but we are enjoying the time that we are spending together, making authentic connections and tending to each other.
From the signs and songs at the Women’s March to Saturday Night Live, the artistic responses during this difficult time, demonstrates our creative, generative power. Personally, I have found myself drawn to writing daily posts about the Season for Nonviolence, and creating content for this blog and for Active Hope workshops.
As Joanna Macy describes in this short video, there are no guarantees in life, but this “knife-edge of uncertainty is where we come alive.”