Does The Future Still Love Us?
"Let the questions be the curriculum."
It's been two years since I wrote The Future Loves You Already.
I love the me who wrote that poem and knew a chorus of voices needed to bring it to life; It's still one of my favorite things I've ever done!
I can picture exactly where I was walking when that idea came to me – on the block of Lincoln St. between Amity and Route 9. I remember how clearly it came and how quickly I moved to bring it to life. When a creative idea comes like that, it's a gift to receive, unwrap, and shepherd with gratitude and humility and care.
Now, a framed print of that poem hangs on my office wall. I look at it sometimes and wonder, what am I doing today to continue watering the seeds of this future?
If I'm tired or burned-out feeling, I can easily get demoralized and discouraged. I mean, really, in this world, how could you not? So the questions I come upon are manifold. How do we get ourselves back up? How do we nurture and tend to what's right in front us, how do we keep the plants watered and the kids fed, how do we honor our commitments and care for those in our midst, how do we make space for our own spirits' needs for quiet and regeneration, how do we treat the stranger, how do we meet ourselves?
Obviously these are the kinds of inquiries a person could spend a lifetime asking. And here enters another facet of my thinking: What's happening in our communities and in our country is not theoretical, not even a little bit. It's as real as the swastika drawn on the dashboard, the misogynoir graffitti in the college dorm, the lethal bullying on a queer teen's social media account, the fatphobia, the gun-related deaths, the cops back on the beat after a paid administrative leave, the woman with her head in her hands before a pile of unopened bills.
We all know where this downward spiral can lead.
I started a 7-day course called "Anxiety-Melting Stoic Meditation" on Insight Timer. The exercise for the first day is the form of Socratic questioning known as the Downward Arrow technique, in which the inquirer asks herself a series of successive questions intended to uncover underlying beliefs that might be fueling certain fears.
It's useful on a personal level when it comes to identifying the difference between emotionally driven, and likely habitual, thought patterns, and objective realities. From there, we get a much better handle on what's "real" and actionable, as opposed to what's just swirling thought debris cluttering up our ability to see clearly and act accordingly (or not act, as the case may be). In other words, it's a tool of self-exploration and discernment.
I haven't done day two of this mini-course yet. But I suspect (and hope!) it will entail something like an upward arrow! In any case, all of this has me considering what direction my arrows are facing, a long-favorite image of mine.
The Future Loves You Already took the entire quiver and pointed every arrow straight into an imagined future, one where we are ALL free from oppressive systems.
In this vision, we become infinitely more available to ourselves and thus to each other and the world. It's a world that recognizes, values, and welcomes each person's gifts and contributions; it's a world that holds space for healing. It's a world where, to quote Mordechai M. Kaplan, founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, "God is the assumption that there is enough in the world to meet our needs but not to meet our greed for power and pleasure."
The thing is, if we are overly oriented towards a future that feels too far away to truly touch into, we are likely to topple over. Our balance will be too much ahead of our actual feet, the ground that holds us right this minute.
This is where I always end up, isn't it? Right this minute. The ground beneath my feet. The place where I'm standing. It's only ever from this place, this actual, real place, that I can assess and arrange my arrows. I do not have an endless supply of arrows, either. I must be thoughtful about where I pour my energy.
This is good news, actually.
There can be a lot of freedom in some ways in making things smaller. By drawing in my attention, by laying out my arrows and deciding, each day, what's most important, where I can have the most impact, I step into something that counterbalances the pull of despair: Focus.
I have more than enough in this world to meet my needs. If I start to spin out – we're going to hell in a handbasket!! – I need to find my footing. I need to inventory my arrows and identify if I'm hurling some of them in entirely wrong directions. I need to remember the future I dream of without creating a false chasm in my mind between here and there. I need to remember that every choice I make today IS what creates the future. It's not some inevitable preexisting condition; it's something we're ALL actively creating, every single day.
Two years later, I want to believe that the future really does love us already. And maybe it's not as far away as it seems. Maybe it's in this day, this moment, this breath.
Shabbat Shalom and love,
p.s. Watch the video! Buy the print!
p.p.s. Imagine being loved anyway by Gretchen Schmelzer
Registration now open for this 8-week course
Talking to Heather Plett about the role of creative practice in exploring one's inner landscape – and thus as foundational to who and how we are in the world – was one of the high points of last year for me.
I'm so excited that she is offering "Know Yourself, Free Yourself" again this year and highly recommend this course to anyone seeking to broaden their sense of self, connection, and possibility in a banged-up world.
Register at the Centre for Holding Space: https://bit.ly/3lU2SCg
Writing Practice – Alone but Together
If you could use a beautiful infusion of simple writing practice and wonderful comrades, join me!
All welcome. March 6-17, 2023. $99. There are FIVE spots left.
Is a July weekend of writing, breathing, being, eating tacos, laughter, and basking in the presence of a wonderful small group of fellow travelers on your "maybe" list for the summer? If you have questions or just want to tell me you're thinking about it, come drop me a note here. I’d love to hear from you!
“Darkness is good for us.” ~ Agata Łopuszyńska :: read
I started taking an in-person yoga class for the first time in many years and I'm loving starting again. Wednesday, this was what I saw coming out of savasana. Lying in the dark under a thick blanket and watching the snow come down in front of the parking lot lights was so peaceful. We all hold so much – it's good, sometimes, to let something bigger hold us, if only for a moment.