There are times when the world feels like a hard-edged place and it is challenging to catch your breath and reflect and absorb it all. I feel like right now we are living in such a time. And while I think there are some people who are bolstered by this type of environment, to be an activist, to create change, to shout from the rooftops that the world is not right and justice needs to be served, for me, and I sense many others, I really thrive in a place of less reaction and more contemplation.
I have taken to wearing the same simple outfit everyday: jeans, a v-neck t-shirt, no makeup for the past year or two. It is only recently that I’ve recognized that this is my armour. That the predictability, the comfort, the autonomy of such clothing choices make me feel secure and more able to face the world that we live in currently. So I am a turtle tucking my head deep into my shell to reflect intensely on my core values, to realign them and make sure they are true, to make sure they are not being drowned out by all the other noise surrounding us and my clothes help with that as obscure as that seems.
It is hard to not react and to find the time to meditate deeply when the world seems to be spinning faster and in an ever more off-kilter direction. It is jarring to slow down and pause because spinning can feel like a natural rhythm once you’ve been doing it for awhile. To stop, to step off a spinning carousel, onto solid ground, still feels wobbly for awhile. We get used to the pace we allow ourselves, to the amount of content we absorb, to the expectations we and others set on ourselves to be “productive”. And we live in a culture where “hustle” is often lauded and feels like the mantra of the moment.
I am ever so slowly getting used to a less fast pace where solid and not spinning ground feels comfortable but I find myself trying to fight it still – I am so used to spinning these past few years yet also deeply craving a break, a pause, a reprieve. I prefer the long, quiet in-between spaces, the time to create without expectation, but it really does take awhile to remember that this is where the good stuff lies. That out of stillness come the breakthroughs and the epiphanies that can’t be scheduled and fit into preordained time frames or occurrences. Overall, I respect the seasonality of life, and I have faith in its profoundly recurring nature even if my build, then retreat, then torture, then contemplate method is predictable.
I have been meditating on stillness, on subtlety, on optimism, on grace overall in a world whose own values seem muddied. I recently listened to a podcast with writer Junot Diaz. He was talking about an essay he wrote called “Radical Hope is Our Best Weapon” in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. Hearing him describe the philosophies and perspective that went into his piece, was moving and a point of view that I wish I heard more often. He said a lot of powerful things but this statement really resonated with me: “Society gives us a lot of prompts and a lot of encouragements to be reactive, emotionally reactive. In this, we have received tremendous tutelage. So the ability to do what our societies seem incapable and unwilling to do is important. It’s incumbent upon us to be reflective, to be complex, to be subtle, to be nuanced, to take our time in societies which are none of these things and which encourage none of these things…”
Yes, yes to all of this, yes.