The Day Before Election, in a Pandemic, 2020
This is not political. This is about me. As I am on this day before the national election, during a growing pandemic, 2020.
To mark this day of days I choose to record here how I am, writing down the bare bones, recalled now, of this morning’s walking meditation, contemplation, examination of myself, amidst this whirlwind of my feelings and thoughts and all the physical and energetic movements within me, requiring this practice of centering that I now record, mindful that it is significant. I share it because I took all of you with me on my walk at Earthsprings this morning, blessing you in the midst of the following sequence of remembrances.
When I was young, I heard the word serene, a word in short supply right now in our world. Back then, when I first heard the word, I loved the sound of it, thought about the meaning of it. I knew a few, a very few people who sometimes seemed serene.
But I thought, back then, “That’s impossible for me! I am too intense, too passionately concerned about everything—injustice, suffering in the world, and also I am too emotional,” I thought. “I may sometimes be ecstatic, but I’m not serene.”
In college I learned about Buddhism, and detachment, and I said, “Here we go again; I could never be a Buddhist, because I am passionately attached. And I don’t want to be detached!” About that time a friend gave me a greeting card with the words on the front in big letters, “Be less intense;” the card, of course, represented my being then in the age of being “cool.” Walt Whitman and I were out of fashion.
But I continued on, as I was, involved, attached, passionate, sometimes up, sometimes down, happy, sad, grieved, glad. I heard about “let go and let God” and other platitudes, of course.
Then I met the Jungians, in person and in books, and I learned from Martin Kelsey the useful expression, “I have all these various villagers inside, and I am all of them at once.” I got that. Sort of. But I was wobbly about it, because, really, aren’t we supposed to be whole, not have a split personality with all these conflicting villagers?
Then I learned the difference between a destructive split-off villager, or inner voice, that is neglected, repressed, or that is given too much attention, rendering me possessed by that voice or attitude or way of being, I learned the difference between that and, on the other hand, having more healthy sort of “village council” where in my “active imagination” I can listen to all my varying inner voices and they can all be heard, hopefully more or less equally, in an inner democracy, if you will, leaving no one out, not a mythical “fairy godmother become witch” or wise ancestor living in me through DNA or otherwise, or just a fresh, creative, imaginative fancy or wonder that brings newness of life.
Soon I found it a necessary and frequent practice of listening to all my various inner villagers, because I had learned that is impossible not to have all kinds of differing voices going off at the same. How else to stay sane?
So, in my Native American way, I began to seek balance. But, of course, more and more, duality, plurality, being dominant, life began to seem like being on a see-saw. Or walking a balance beam. Or, as Jung put it, walking a razor’s edge. Even while being in one state of being, whatever it was—joy, sorrow, anger, whatever—I was always aware (somewhat) of one or more of the other villagers in me, ready to negate or counter-balance whatever I was feeling. Being a “Gemini-rising” didn’t help, either, with its twinned balancing act!
But, meeting a Taoist from China, and with practice, and also with Buddhist practice, I admit, I began to relate to an observer in me that just watched and listened to the various parts of me, as LIFE, in capital letters, happened to me and through me, for years, and years.
And out of that which was often whirlwind, out of that sometimes storm, out of being sometimes in hell, or heaven, or the desert, or on a mountain top, or in one momentary state of bliss or another, and as the inner observer villager turned grey-haired in the process of all she saw and heard, as everything changed and changed, I became more and more unattached to anything because I knew it would change, and I would have to let got, start over, revise, repent, reboot, regret.
And so I just got very still, and more still. Sometimes I called it being numb or stuck or unfeeling, but more and more often I recognized it as being, well, sort of inclusively neutral, maybe partially enlightened.
And so I experienced deeper and deeper layers of passionate feeling and relationship and caring, while simultaneously being also detached in some holy and paradoxical way.
I then often felt, not split, not integrated, not even balanced, but rather multi-faceted, like a crystal, or like a tree that has both roots and branches at once, with also various shimmering leaves of both green and gold.
Likewise, my various ways, various religions, various feelings or lack thereof—being with all of these became a way of life, a way of being, and I learned slowly to dance with all the inner villagers, not just to sit in a circle with them.
And, I learned that they are often able to dance together, with each other, not in chaos or disorder, but in sync, paradoxically, mysteriously.
And, more and more, I was able better to hear and see other things, invisible, subtle things, synchronistic and seemingly impossible things, miraculous things, moving and affecting, arranging and interacting with everything, and I began to live into the wider aspects of my SELF, interacting more and more consciously with archetypes or angels or energy fields or illusions or whatever inadequate labels someone else might want to call them.
And I learned that this wider SELF that some call Oneness was, is, full of even more villagers, as my inner village became a Universe, and then, eventually, I reached the limits of my conscious categories, and I called it all simply by the name of Mystery.
And so, today, the day before the election of 2020, in the midst of a growing pandemic, with urgent personal and family matters dramatically coming to a head as well, as hope and fear and disgust and delight intermingle and interact within me, as I am drawn to pay attention to and watch the dreaded and sometimes dreadful news on television, to be present to that, even as I am also drawn instead to sit silently in the forest and breathe, I am grateful to know that I am now more elaborately equipped to be with all of that, to here now, modestly present and not present to this extraordinarily important day and time.
And so, on this morning’s daily walking round, as I felt the wind in my face and the morning sun on my shoulders, I stood still in one spot and saw perhaps twenty or more different varieties of trees within my field of vision; I reached out to the nearest one and touched the beauty of the stiff, shiny dark green leaves of a holly tree, with it’s also sharp, hurtful, points, and I thought of, and indeed prayed for all the variations and multiplicities and inclusiveness of LIFE itself, within me, beyond me, everywhere, with no ultimate divisions or boundaries, regardless of race, religion, politics, gender, or anything else,
Only the inclusive, multifaceted, voidness of definition that is Mystery, that includes Life and Love in the grandest sense, Life and Love that will go on, and on, and on, after this day and after tomorrow’s election, no matter what, no matter what happens tomorrow or the week after or the century after.
And in this alive, passionate, serene place, I discovered, again, that I never outgrew Walt Whitman at all. Nor Jung. Nor the New Old Age, not Christ or Buddha or Kali or Mother Mary, nor any of the rest of it. I carry it, it carries me. Passionately. Serenely.
Through this day. Into the future.