Friday, March 5, 2010

Anchorage, Pt. 2

A friend called me the other day feeling worried and sad about everything going on in the world. "It's just so sad," she said. "I'm so worried about the world."

God, no kidding. I mean, the economy, poverty, disease, food, global warming, inept and corrupt politicians, and that's the short list. These earthquakes: Haiti, Chile, Taiwan. Some say the Oregon coast is next. The earth moves and moves.

I was watching Alaska TV last night (well, mostly I was watching this A&E reality show about catching fugitives, but during the commericals I would switch back to Alaska TV). Alaska TV is one of those schlocky chamber of commerce channels that gives you tours of local shops and restaurants and tour outfitters. In a weird bit of vintagey marketing, they also showed footage from the massive 1964 Good Friday earthquake, which quite literally ripped Anchorage to pieces.

Oh my, I thought. Wouldn't that be just the thing. For a minute, my departure Tuesday seemed very far away. Suddenly, my very tall hotel didn't seem so great.

"We're in a time of great shifts," my Nia teacher says. Another spiritual teacher reminds me and my fellow students, "Yes, there is great suffering in the world, and our hearts break with compassion and sorrow over it. But also, these are opportunities for great leaps in consciousness. There is never only the breaking."

It's hard to remember that when we are being swallowed by the earth, when our little ones have disappeared, when we are surrounded by collapse. But what else is there? What else is there but to climb out the wreckage, and then to turn back and help others climb out too, and to remember and live on?

From Colin Beavan's book No Impact Man (which is sooo good, really. I'd like to recommend it to you most heartily). At the end of the book, which is really a reflection on figuring out what matters, he writes about his Uncle Bing, who committed suicide, his brother David, who died in his crib, and his wife Michelle, who has suffered a miscarriage:

I understand now about Bing and David. Everyone loses Bing and David. Some people lose them at the beginning of their lives and some in the middle and some at the end. Some will lose their children and some their siblings. Michelle lost her unborn child at age thirty-nine. David stopped breathing in his crib when I was four. And you? And you? This it the root of my religious belief: we are not separate.

It's terrible and it's wonderful, but it's true: we're all in the same boat. That's the consolation. It's not just me who's scared and lonely and worried and isn't sure how to help myself. We don't know how to help ourselves, but there is one thing we do know how to do. We know how to help each other.

There is only one thing that makes sense, Pema [Chodron] said.

Can I help? Do I help?

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I'm rendered speechless. Which you know doesn't happen too often. You are an amazing writer!