because nothing happens, everything happens
Is this post emo enough for you yet?
I have been spending most of the summer thus far in my boiling apartment, trying to get comfortable on my loveseat-cum-replacement-for-a-bedbug-ridden-mattress, waiting for a phone call from one of the four temporary staffing agencies I've interviewed with to drop a job in my lap so that I can start paying for things like electricity, or my Norton subscription, or the GRE.
With much too much time on my hands, interspersed with bouts of disappointment and inconvenience of varying degrees - if you would have asked me six months ago, I would have told you that by now I would be having a great love affair, that by now I would have a job and oh-my-God-money, that by now I would have a master's degree and I would be a Learned Person with Prospects Working Hard to Save the World, that by now all that I had sacrificed back in Baltimore, going on seven bloody years ago now, all that I ditched to get out here was well worth it - it's been all too easy to start seeing the outlines of this year's weird trajectory reflected back at me in the news, mainly the discomforting ones, the ominous ones, as proof that the proverbial bottom I'd so carefully planned and tended falling out is in fact part of a larger story. No, no - I don't mean a conspiracy, but evidence of a decline, like flags on a map.
This is also supposed to be the place where the chance for wisdom and growth occurs. Pema Chodron says,
You can think of the groundlessness and openness of insecurity as a chance that we're given over and over to choose a fresh alternative. Things happen to us all the time that open up the space. This spaciousness, this wide-open, unbiased, unprejudiced space is inexpressible and fundamentally good and sound.
It's scary, though. And the more I think about it, the sadder it makes me, too. "What's the point?" never used to enter my head, but now - now, I look in the mirror, and I just see someone who is getting older much too fast, and I look out the window, and I see a planet that is getting much too warm - and "What's the point?" sounds like a viable option. Sometimes it sounds like the only option, especially when it's late and I'm wondering how much it costs to have the television on and whether or not someone will call me with a job tomorrow and if I'm ever going to be in love again because I'll just fuck it up and is it really me, how much am I to blame for all of this, and besides, fucking glaciers, fucking coal-fired power plants, fucking Blackwater, those cocksuckers - "What's the point?"
"Normally of course," says Chodron, "we want to get away from that uncomfortable feeling.
It just seems reasonable, except for the fact that you may have noticed that it doesn't really work. We've been trying the same ways of getting comfortable for as long as we can remember, and yet our aggression, our anxiety, our resentfulness don't seem to be getting any less. I'm saying that we need to develop an appetite for groundlessness; we need to get curious about it and be willing to pause and hang out for a while in that space of insecurity.
So panic, apparently, like pleasure-seeking and anger, is just another escape route. Just another dodge. I always thought that "crisis=opportunity" thing was a cop-out, was a way to duck responsibility. I like the idea of creating spaciousness better, that the impetus to act with good intention in spite of crisis begins with the space I choose to make in the midst of fear, or of insecurity. Again and again and again.
Another teacher, Naropa U founder Trungpa Rinpoche, wrote that "Because nothing really happens, everything happens." So work may not come this afternoon, or tomorrow. The coal-fired power plants keep getting built. And fucking Blackwater, those cocksuckers. But there is no end to all of this. Not hope, exactly - hope is a wish. Hope is like believing in magic. But there is now. Everything happens now. I can make space to act now. And now. And now.