Surfing the Middle Way

Balancing Joy with Responsibility In This Moment For Our Collective Future.

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Recently, someone mentioned a friend’s post on Facebook. I was told it said something along the lines of, “I get so tired of people just posting about being happy. Life is not just happy, I just smashed up my leg. Be real.”

This got under my skin. I do strive to post joyfully. There is a belief that what you focus on becomes your reality. If we direct our thoughts and emotions towards what we want to manifest, along with gratitude for what we have, then our lives expand on our behalf.

Still, it irked me because, of course I am not happy all of the time. I get angry, I get depressed, especially when I react in an ugly way and then drag myself down into shame because I should know better. I have the tools to maintain a loving balance within myself. The key, for me, is to come back to center.

When Julia and I sing, people come up afterwards and ask me if I smile all the time. Regardless of whatever Julia and I are going through, usually by the third song in, I can’t help but smile because the harmony between us is a palpable force that isn’t about either one of us. When we sing, if I am not locked into my head, my heart takes over and what flows through us naturally lifts me up.

Ira and Julia- The Levins

Ancient wisdom dictates that when we keep our emotions harmonious than we can make the choices that promote health, welfare and wellbeing in our communities and our world.

Aye, but maintaining our balance in the midst of daily chaos is much like surfing.

Here we are in a time of seeming divide, where our friends, families and neighbors may be on opposite poles politically and ideologically. When communication breaks down, we may feel that “the other side” will just never “get it” because we get our news from sources that keep us locked into smaller and smaller circles. Fear confines us and we tend to rail against one another with increasing vitriol.

Photo by Alex on Unsplash

Issues arise that demand our attention: the rain forests burning, children in cages who have been separated from their parents, racism, antisemitism, global warming. There is rampant injustice and environmental emergencies that affect us all. Unless we can center ourselves, our passions can thwart our true progress. Yelling at one another while the house burns down is not as effective as delineating responsibilities while we make sure that we get one another out safely and even try to save the house.

I remember driving with a friend and going off on a rant about how chickens were being treated in the factory farming process. I was getting all worked up and becoming rather heated as I thought about the cruelty involved. My friend waited until I paused and said, “Be funny.” Well, we both started cracking up. I am usually known to be light-hearted but my rant, while based in truth, was not helping the chickens in that moment, especially since I was preaching to the choir.

This week we had dinner with our friend Stephanie Sarasvati Miner Berger, who said that she is exchanging the thought that remaining present moment to moment is really hard with, “How about now? How about, now?” Stephanie also turned me onto Greta Thunberg.

Greta is a sixteen-year-old Swedish teenager who became concerned about Global Warming and was inspired by the students who organized and spoke out after the Parkland shooting. Greta asked herself what the point of going to school was if her generation had no future. She began a Fridays for Future movement. Starting with herself, instead of going to school on Fridays, she would sit out in front of the Swedish Parliament to protest their lack of concern for the climate crisis. Through her tweets and Instagram account, Greta inspired millions of students around the world to join her. Greta has been nominated for a Nobel Peace prize, been featured on Time magazine as a “next generation leader,” spoken to the UN and all over Europe. Penguin publishers put many of her speeches in a book called, No One is Too Small to Make a Difference

She just arrived by a solar powered sailboat, crossing the Atlantic without contributing to the rise of global emissions, to NY to speak out in America, Canada and Mexico. Greta Thunberg reaches New York after 15-day yacht journey.

Her speeches are truthful, knowledgeable and cut through lines of rhetoric. Yet, while she is passionate, she is balanced within. My friend Stephanie noted that she is like a controlled fire. She is not shouting or raising her fist at the politicians and the people in power who, “have gotten away with not doing anything to fight the climate crisis.” But she maintains a harmonious calm center as she says, “we will make sure that they will not get away with it any longer. We are striking because we have done our homework and they have not.”

Greta is a reminder to me that we have to find a way to maintain our balance to build bridges across the divide that separates us, to reach one another in time. That is challenging while carrying on with our lives and providing for ourselves and our families. Still, while we resist the need for change, we can lovingly ask ourselves, “How about now? How about…now?”

When I looked up the actual Facebook post that prompted this blog, I found that it was not talking about people being happy all the time. It actually said:

“While I find that many people are willing to tell you all about their successes, it is a rare and honest soul who’s willing to freely share their mistakes. I value those who are immensely. With that, I’ll share one of mine: when setting batter boards to build a sturdy and true shed foundation, you should NOT hit yourself in the shin with a sledgehammer. You’re welcome.”

This is significant because it reminds me that we each have to investigate what we are being told for ourselves. We each have to wrestle with the truth so that we can be honest with where we are at, moment to moment. Being able to laugh at ourselves is also extremely helpful.

I uphold the belief that we can usher in the results we would like to see in our lives and in our world if we find our balance and maintain a harmonious center.  We can even be joyful amid the panic.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

As Greta Thunberg said, “The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.”

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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