Sunday, December 18, 2016


This week, I don't really feel like I have all that much to say.  I watched this amazing TedTalk yesterday and really what I most want to share is this talk:

John Francis: Walk the 17 year vow of silence

Please watch it - a great way to spend the next 18 minutes.  A total delight, and an amazing story of his life - one part Forrest Gump, one part Gandhi.  I really really love this guy.

Update 1/6/17: I notice that since I heard this guy's story, something new has been inspired within me.  To me, he's a beautiful picture of profound success.  Not that more common type of success, but the success of keeping a deep personal commitment, of walking a long path to deep wisdom, of cultivating a wild allegiance to one's own truth.  His ability to hold to his inner commitments to not ride in a motorized vehicle and then to not speak for decades absolutely astounds me.  I think his story resonates for me because I feel like I'm of a similar breed.  I have pretty outlandish idealistic impulses, and sometimes, I even have a glimmer of the kind of fortitude his story illustrates.  He makes me curious about what it would look like if I was more focused about cultivating these traits in myself.     

Sunday, December 11, 2016


This image really grabbed me this week:

From the Facebook page of Standing Rock Rising

This picture was taken this past week when a group of U.S. veterans bowed down while one of them expressed an apology for how our military and government has mistreated and harmed Native people.  The Native elder responded by an in-kind apology for the 268 soldiers who were killed during the Battle of Big Horn by Sioux warriors.  This apology and forgiveness exchange was followed by a call by both the gathered veterans and the elder for World Peace.

Reading about this event, watching video, looking at pictures - this did much more than warm my heart.  It freaking set it on fire.  All week, I've felt giddy with optimism and love and hope. 

Almost 20 years ago now, I was studying abroad in Australia and saw a flyer for a meeting to discuss Aboriginal Reconciliation; I was intrigued enough to show up.  The meeting was related to the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, and I sat and listened as this small group of passionate people talked about their plan to organize some sort-of public recognition of the tragic history of the Indigenous people who were killed and abused in various ways as the Europeans settled Australia. 

Being in that meeting opened me up to consider facing the ugliest chapters of our history with something besides debilitating shame or fearful denial.  It gave me hope there was another way, and I've reflected back to that often over the years.

Australia continued experimenting with these questions about reconciliation, and around 9 years after my visit, the Australian government gave a public apology to their Indigenous people, the Apology of 2008.  This article has interesting comparisons of the Australian and United States' attempts to restore and heal relations with their Indigenous people.  The grand apology does not seem to have created the hoped for reconciliation in Australia, but that doesn't dampen my hope for what's possible.  It only makes me that much more curious about how it could be played out more meaningfully.

Forgiveness feels a bit like magic to me.

When awful things happen, both parties hold a key to deep resolution in their own ability to  apologize, to forgive, to be honest about what occurred.  In my own life, I've found that these are some of the hardest things to meaningfully do, and yet, these are our greatest opportunities for transformation and healing, both personally and collectively.

I pray that the forgiveness ceremony this week is a catalyst for more in that vein.  May we walk the road to deeply forgive ourselves, to deeply forgive each other, to deeply forgive our ancestors, and may some hard earned forgiveness be the fertile ground for a cultural transformation.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Long Shot

Man oh man.  These last six months or so have been a doozy here in the US, and it appears to be similar for planet earth in general.  And as the weather is turning colder, I'm really feeling the draw to unplug, head into hibernation, and hope everything goes ok out in the world while I'm warm in my little cave not paying attention to it all.

I have been paying attention, trying my best, and hoping the hardest things to hope.  And it's getting exhausting. 

I always seem to pick the long shot.  I vote for third parties in presidential elections a lot of the time.  If I'm not enthused by either major party candidate, I just can't get myself to choose the one that seems a lesser evil.  As we were nearing this election, I really thought that maybe I just had to do it this one time;  but at the final moment, I just didn't.  I somehow seem to have no trouble mustering the hope, despite everyone's "you must be crazy" looks, that something else is possible than the status quo, than this toxic two party system that seems so filled with smoke and mirrors.

And then since the election, again, my mind keeps turning to another long shot.  I keep wishing that maybe 37 of the republican electors will decide not to vote for Trump on December 19th, and just maybe the House will choose someone else.  If not, I'll move on and start hoping that he surprises me in the best possible ways, but until that long shot passes, it's where my eyes keep falling.

And then, there's the Dakota Access Pipeline; I'm hoping like crazy that it is never completed.  Somehow, maybe all the people, the prayers, the urgency of climate change will overcome, and this company losing billions of dollars on a pipeline that is never finished will change the tide and begin a cycle of rapid movement away from fossil fuels.

Even look at this blog: A Peaceful Human Race - dedicated to the hope that we evolve into a peaceful human race.  And the first blog I ever made I named A Sustainable Human Race, one I started on the hope that human beings would learn to sustain themselves in harmony with the miraculous and sensitive environmental balance of this incredible planet and all its inhabitants.

I'm a total dreamer, and even when something is a complete long shot, if it resonates for me, I believe, the way a kid into the double digits might still hold that belief in Santa.  It can be disheartening for me at times, but I have to admit that mostly I sort-of love this trait in myself.  Those long shots give me this comfy feeling that lets me know I'm home in my own strange self.

But lately, the long shots are feeling harder to believe in and more dire.  Last night, my husband and I were talking about some of the scary possibilities of our future - like nuclear war - and he said, "wow, maybe we won't even get to see global warming."

After we had a laugh, it hit me: maybe we won't.

Maybe we really are seeing the end, maybe we're living in Atlantis, maybe we are the dinosaurs stomping recklessly upon this planet and will soon be sunk under layers of dirt into its history.

I really haven't wanted to make peace with that.  I've wanted to hope my way through it, dreaming and visualizing and coming up with solutions to all the world's problems.  But after a couple decades of seeing humanity driving towards this brick wall and trying to wish and pray it away, I feel like it might be time for a change in my approach.

Those violinists on the Titanic have been on my mind this past week.  While everyone was rushing around in panic all around them, they went out on deck with their instruments and played their music, until the very end.  I've always loved that scene of the movie, feeling the deep beauty of choosing that way of spending their last moments.

I'm wondering if it's time for me to just make peace with the tragic ending, with the possibility that we will never become a truly peaceful human race, with the possibility that we may be among the last generations of human beings to live on this gorgeous planet. 

Nah.  I can write those words and I can see a significant number of arrows pointing at those possibilities, but something in me won't cooperate with that thinking.  A peaceful and sustainable human race is something that feels real to me, from the inside.

I have absolutely no idea whether this ship is going down or not, but either way, those violinists are a strong message for me right now.  Calm down in the midst of panic, step out on deck, and just play the role that you're clear is yours to play.  Part of my role is apparently to hold these long shots, and so I will, but it feels like time to hold them a little lighter and focus more on the music, the tastes, the everyday miracles that abound.