Why Don't We Feel Elated?
We've been on a roller coaster ride these past few weeks.
Election Day came and went with the results unclear leaving us all in a heightened state of anxiety mixed with despair.
Finally, on Saturday, it was announced that Joe Biden was the winner and that we would be heralding in a new era in American politics!
Why doesn't it feel more celebratory? More definitive?
Perhaps because we have yet to hear the loser concede the election.
Perhaps because, as we have learned, stress doesn't just dissipate when the stressor is removed.
We know that people often sink further into depression immediately after the divorce they initiated is finalized. We know that almost all students get sick after finally turning in their dissertations. We know that a majority of concentration camp survivors were unable to live happy lives after finally being liberated. It's not always easy to move on. Even when we've been desperate to move on. Some people didn't realize that they had been holding their breath for the past few years. Some people were hoping for a more sweeping victory, a full renunciation of what was and feel disappointed. For many of us, we have been in hiding, trying to get through the dark times, and are resistant to coming out yet, unsure of how it will be. I can remember as a child, playing hide and seek with my siblings, hearing "come out come out wherever you are" and wondering if it made more sense to stay in my comfortable, safe hiding place than to come into the harsh light of reality. Perhaps we should have more compassion for ourselves, and think of the hiding not as cowardly but as protective. The poet David Whyte concurs, "hiding is a way of staying alive. Hiding is a way of holding ourselves until we are ready to come into the light. Hiding is one of the brilliant and virtuoso practices of almost every part of the natural world; the protective quiet of an icy northern landscape, the held bud of a future summer rose, the snowbound internal pulse of the hibernating bear...
Hiding done properly is the internal promise of a proper future emergence." We may have been hiding because of our fear. We may have been hiding because of our anger. We may have been hiding because of our disbelief. We have allowed something outside of ourselves to take over our time, our hearts, our minds. In that space of worry, even if we have been actively fighting, there has not been a focus on our inner selves. We have used these years, this hostility, in part to avoid looking inside. But now is the time to come forth, to emerge. Who will we be as we emerge? What have we learned from our hiding and what will we share with others moving forward? As we emerge, coming into the light, what is the future we want to create? "The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails". William Arthur Ward. We are where we are. We have a new leader and a still divided country. It's time to be fully present, adjust the sails and move forward. Go inside and make the adjustments you need to make. The transformation of the world begins with each one of us. Listen to the wisdom of the poet Yung Pueblo:
"Peaceful minds have the power to create a peaceful world".
There is much healing to be done, individually and collectively. Let's begin by taking a very long slow deep breath, breathing in right and breathing out now. RIGHT NOW is our time. Time to cultivate the traits we hope to see in others, to treat others as we want others to treat us. To practice peace. Do something kind today. Be compassionate today. Love someone today. Forgive someone today. Speak the truth today. Even the smallest shift will have an impact. As Leo Tolstoy says, "true life is lived when tiny changes occur." Let's all work on making tiny changes in our own minds and our own lives. And then perhaps we will see the major change we want to see.. With love and light,