Many things are on my mind and heart right now. Watching Australia burn, I feel powerless and scared. It’s destruction of epic proportions and my heart breaks for the people and animals affected by the fires. I also feel powerless and scared as I watch President Trump’s aggressive actions toward Iran. What really freaks me out is that neither he nor many of those in power seem to care one iota what the vast majority of Americans want. He’s hellbent on marching toward war in order to stay in power.

The whole thing makes me want to burrow under the covers and tune out the world. In fact, I did a little bit of that today – I stayed in bed two hours after I woke up meditating, reading, and endlessly scrolling through facebook and instagram. The book I’m reading, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, is by a therapist who realizes she needs therapy herself. In it, Lori Gottlieb writes numbness isn’t absence of feeling, it’s overwhelm at having too many feelings. That’s sure the case for me.

Where do I, or we, go from here? How do I navigate the deluge of information and emotion spewing my way? Chani Nicholas, an astrologer I follow, said: “We maneuver around despair by focusing on the little wins, the quality of our connections, and the blessing of second chances after we’ve made a mess of things. We have to live out our potential, our dreams, and our destinies one caring act at a time. Like our life depends on it. Like our future is waiting for it. Like it is what we were born to do. Anything that derails us from this aim doesn’t deserve access to our days, nights, or rituals.”

Little by little adds up to something, and something is better than nothing. Photo by Hudson Hintze on Unsplash

Little wins. Right now the majority of people around me are caught up in the fervor of the new year – excited for a fresh start, amping themselves up with resolutions and intentions and things they’re claiming for this year. People are making plans, envisioning how they want their lives to go. Awesome! As for me, I’m reminded I can start over at any time. It doesn’t have to be the new year or a Monday or even the morning to start fresh. I can start my day over at 10 p.m. on a Tuesday. This year I’m retreading my goals from 2019 – the ones I put on the back burner because I chose to focus on other things, rightly so. For instance, I opened a retirement account for myself. I’m not sure I’ll be able to contribute much every month, but I decided something small is better than nothing. And at this point, it’s important for me to just start, even if I don’t wind up where I’d like to be.

That mindset feels like the wisest thing I can share right now: just start. Will my $10 donation to a firefighter unit make a vast difference in Australia? No, but my donation plus your donation adds up to something, and something is better than nothing. Will I single-handedly be able to stop a war with Iran? No, but my voice plus your voice still matters, and even though I don’t have a lot of faith in many politicians right now, it’s still important for me to try.

I’d like to end with a quote from my spiritual teacher. He says, “There are some people who are pessimistic. They say that the society around us is very bleak … Pessimists say this because they have never made any detailed study of human history, nor do they care to. Had they done so, they would certainly be optimistic, because if they had looked carefully at the symptoms of pause, they would have realized that significant preparations were being made for the subsequent phase of speed. So under no circumstances should human beings be pessimistic. That is why I am always an incorrigible optimist, because I know that optimism is life.”

It may seem naive and foolish to be optimistic right now, but for me also, optimism is life. I don’t function well without optimism and what the world needs from me and from all of us right now is function. We need as many high-functioning people as we can get, and if that means being optimistic, if that means celebrating little wins, if that means focusing on the quality of our connections, so be it.

I dream of a world where we realize something is better than nothing and we act accordingly. A world where we celebrate small wins and keep putting one foot in front of the other. A world where we do whatever it is we need to do to make it through challenging times in a way that’s loving and caring for all living beings.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Right now it’s Hanukkah, which is a holiday I celebrate because I’m Jewish. There’s a part of me that feels nervous publicly stating I’m Jewish given the current rise of antisemitism. But then I remind myself people already know I’m Jewish. I’ve never hidden that before so why would I start now? And in fact, that’s precisely the story of Hanukkah.

Some people think of Hanukkah as the “Jewish Christmas” because hello, we live in a capitalistic culture so it’s all about the gifts, right? Other people vaguely know Hanukkah as a celebration of oil lasting for eight days. That legend was tacked on later to make Hanukkah seem more miraculous. In actuality, Hanukkah is the celebration of people unifying against oppression and winning.

Judah and the Maccabees revolted against Syrian King Antiochus who enacted a series of harsh decrees against the Jews, including forcing them to give so much of their crops to the Syrian ruling class, the Jews had trouble feeding their families. Jewish worship was forbidden; scrolls were confiscated and burned. Sabbath and the dietary laws were prohibited under penalty of death. The small group of Jewish rebels fought against an army of thousands of men and won. How did they win? According to my rabbi, Michael Lerner, they won in part because they believed there is something about the universe that makes such struggles winnable.

dreidel

In case you didn’t know, this image shows a dreidel. It’s used in a game Jews play on Hanukkah. Photo by Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash

In a Hanukkah message, he wrote that “something,” that force, is celebrated when we light candles for Hanukkah or when Christians light candles for Christmas.

“Hanukkah is not just about having a response to the consumption craze around Christmas, it is about affirming a different worldview, a hopeful worldview. [It’s] about replacing cultures of domination with a culture of love and justice,” Rabbi Lerner wrote. “[Hanukkah is also about] recognizing that alternative is not yet fully articulated in the Jewish world and needs all of us to make it clearer not only to the larger world, but to our own communities, synagogues, and Jewish organizations.”

This Hanukkah I’m reminded of what it means to be Jewish: to struggle and to overcome. To be a minority fighting for justice. To join other minorities in doing the same. This Hanukkah I’m also reminded we can win. It seems grim or even impossible that we can wrest power from the wealthy elite hellbent on destroying us all for their own gain. It seems daunting to dismantle racism, sexism, homophobia, and other prejudice, but it can be done. A small but mighty few can accomplish just that.

To paraphrase my spiritual teacher, the strength of five good people is more than the united strength of a hundred immoral people. It also echoes the famous Margaret Mead quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Let’s continue to be thoughtful, committed, organized citizens changing the world. Let’s remember battles that seemed unwinnable have been won, and in fact, that’s what Jews across the world are currently celebrating.

I dream of a world where we recognize there is a transformative force in the universe that makes liberation possible. A world where we recognize a small but mighty group of organized people can overthrow authoritarian regimes. A world where we band together, letting our collective light shine and say “no” to the people who try to keep us down.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

As you know, we’re rounding the bend on 2019. Where did the year go? I know there’s that 10-year challenge floating around social media but I can’t contemplate that we’re about to enter a new decade because I’m pretty sure my mind will explode. No, I’m only thinking about this year and I’ve cried a couple of times this week because 2019 is not at all what I expected; nor did I accomplish what I thought I would.

I remember starting off this year feeling buoyant and enthused as I flew back from LA to the Bay Area, the sun peeking through the clouds. I took it as a good omen, that the universe shared in my optimism. This year I looked forward to financial abundance, to possibly dating again, and also finishing my novel. None of those things happened. Instead this year was like landing in a new city only to be greeted by wildfire smoke – something unanticipated and I didn’t even know I should check for. (That actually happened to me by the way.)

Entering a tunnel of light

Not quite what I was looking for, but it works! Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

This year my accomplishments cannot be enumerated. They are more of the internal variety: setting boundaries with toxic people, demanding what I’m owed, determining what I’m worth, etc. They cannot be shared at a holiday party – except for the fact I started my own business. That I’m telling to everyone who will listen. So yeah. I’m disappointed about this year. I’m literally crying about the gap between my dreams and my reality.

This is the point where I’m probably supposed to talk about how dreams can be deferred, about how things can change on a dime, about how there’s still time as long as I’m alive. All of that is true, and I don’t want to gloss over the grief. There’s nothing to fix here. There’s nothing to change. This year was what it was. I showed up like a champ for the challenges life presented me and that’s also something to celebrate. Was it a good year? No, but it also wasn’t a bad one. It was a year. An exciting, boring, happy, sad, easy, hard, wonderful, terrible year.

What comes to mind right now is a concept underpinning my last couple of posts: surrender. My spiritual teacher says suppose Cosmic Consciousness wants you to become even greater than what you are praying to become. What if Cosmic Consciousness finds greater potential in you than you’re aware of? The best thing to do is surrender completely, to be a conduit instead.

This year has felt like that to me – and also that I’m getting polished. All the things I learned this year, all the things I endured, have been necessary to create an even better version of me. I would have been content with not learning hard lessons, with not undergoing hardship, but then I wouldn’t be where I am now – able to protect myself, to take care of myself, and not let anyone thwart me, including me. So maybe I’ve accomplished what I wanted this year after all.

I dream of a world where we mine for gold in the darkness of our lives. A world where we recognize a year can be both good and bad, even if didn’t go according to plan. A world where we let go of internal “shoulds” and instead embrace what’s here, recognizing maybe we accomplished more than we thought at first glance.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Creative Envy

This past week was stressful and exhausting. I didn’t have the energy to write a new post, but when I searched for one to share again, this one from December 2017 came to mind. Enjoy.

I envy other people’s success. Not in a mean or spiteful way – I don’t begrudge people their accolades, I think they deserve them – rather a part of me burns with yearning to have what they have. I’ve tried all the things I can think of to deal with envy – feeling it fully, using it as fuel for my own work, seeing it as an example of what’s possible, etc., but nothing has made a lasting difference.

This week the green-eyed monster struck again and I sincerely asked the universe for help. I don’t like feeling envious, it’s not something I enjoy, or how I’d like to respond to the success of others. The universe stepped in, as it always does, and I contemplated a prayer I say every morning. Specifically, that I act as an instrument for my higher power, that I may be of service to others, and that I’d like to be used as my higher power sees fit. This week it occurred to me my creative endeavors also apply.

paint colors

Photo by russn_fckr on Unsplash.

On some level I already know this and it’s the main reason I have this blog, to use my words in service of others. I already believe my role as an artist is to establish a link between the finite and infinite, the mundane and the transcendental. In terms of creativity, it means I’m working with something more than me. Talk to any artist and they’ll tell you at some time or another it felt like they were channeling something, that something moved through them. Indeed, Elizabeth Gilbert has a mega-popular video on creativity saying exactly that. If that’s true, and I believe it is, it means I’m an instrument for my higher power. I’m the violin, not the violinist.

When I look at envy from this perspective, it means I’m not to blame for any success or failure. I’m the violin, I’m not in control of the music the violinist plays, nor am I in control of how well the music is received. I don’t know why certain things are popular and others languish in obscurity, but also I don’t know the mind of God. However, I’ve experienced enough synchronicity in my life to know I am a piece on God’s chessboard, that there is a greater intelligence at work. That means art too. It means perhaps certain things I write are supposed to reach a small number of people, and that’s it. I want to write a wildly popular book that lands me on the New York Times bestseller list, a segment with Oprah, and a prestigious award, but maybe every book has its own purpose and trajectory, and sometimes that means only six people will read it.

Envy pops up when my ego has gotten the best of me and I start thinking about my plans instead of the universe’s plans. Envy pops up when I think of myself as the violinist, not the violin. I have to take certain actions, I have to keep my instrument clean and my strings taut, so to speak, but the rest? It’s not up to me. Almost every successful person talks about a “lucky break,” being in the right place at the right time. I don’t think it’s luck, I think it’s grace, and that’s something I can’t manufacture no matter how hard I try. Nor am I supposed to. I’m the violin, allowing myself to be played, not the violinist.

I dream of a world where we realize we are not solely responsible for our creative successes or failures. A world where we recognize we are instruments for something greater than ourselves. A world where we take our egos out of the equation and merely allow ourselves to be played.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Milestones

Depending on when you’re reading this, today is my 35th birthday. It’s weird and surreal and feels like more of a milestone than turning 30. A lot of it has to do with the fact my mother had me when she was 35 and I am nowhere near that place in life. So much is still up in the air for me and a part of me feels grief about that.

At the same time, a friend reflected, “Yeah but when you thought about what life would be like at 35 you didn’t have enough information.” Meaning, when I dreamed up my life at 35, I didn’t factor in a sleep disorder that would rob me of rest for seven years. Nor did I take into account other health issues that would keep me from being able to accomplish the things I planned. So really, aren’t I right where I’m supposed to be? Given all the things I’ve been through, aren’t I doing a great job?

stones on a beach

Seemed appropriate. Photo by Colton Brown on Unsplash

I don’t own a house, but I have an apartment I love. I’m not married, but I’m committed to myself. I don’t have kids, but I’m the beloved auntie of many children. Are things really so bad? All day my phone has buzzed with telephone calls and text messages from people wishing me happy birthday. I love and am loved and isn’t that what matters most anyway?

An excerpt of Barbara Crooker’s poem “In the Middle” seems appropriate here:

Time is always ahead of us, running down the beach, urging
us on faster, but sometimes we take off our watches,
sometimes we lie in the hammock, caught between the mesh
of rope and the net of stars, suspended, tangled up
in love, running out of time.

Running out of time — how true. I feel that acutely because very recently a dear family friend died. I’m reminded birthdays are not promised. They are not foregone conclusions. Many people don’t make it to 35, or 34, or 33. Truly every birthday is a milestone. Shivi’s death also has me asking, how I can accept the things in my life with grace? He had ALS so his death was expected and when I saw him last, he seemed at peace with it. He wasn’t bitter or resentful about dying. He accepted the fact of his life and still managed to be there for the people around him. He exuded love and care right until the end.

I’m crying as I type this because I loved Shivi so much and he is a great example of embracing life as it is. Not always, not in every moment — he was human after all — but he flowed with life. As I get older I recognize the importance of doing the same. This past year especially threw me many, many curveballs but I’m still here. I’m going where the water is warm, so to speak, I’m accepting the direction my life is taking me, and I’m letting go of preconceived notions because who can predict anything anyway? If I’ve learned anything in 35 years it’s that.

I dream of a world where we let go of preconceived notions. A world where we accept what is. A world where we feel gratitude for the present moment, even if it’s not what we anticipated. A world where we can accept each day, each year as a milestone.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Something strange happened to me on Thursday. In the afternoon I heard a helicopter circling and peered out my window to identify its location. When I looked out my bedroom window, I spotted not only the helicopter above me, but also a swarm of police cars on the street behind my house. I’m on a hill so the cars were not directly behind me but I could still see them.

I jumped on Twitter and used all the hashtags that came to mind to determine why police cars and a helicopter parked near my house. I googled local news and even called the police nonemergency number. After waiting on hold for nearly 10 minutes I hung up. I couldn’t find an answer to my question. I thought about walking up to a police officer and asking about the fuss, but then I questioned that. “Do you really need to know? Maybe it’s better if you don’t.”

Does this person need to know what they’re walking on or is it better if they don’t, being a sewer and all? Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

Confession, although I suspect you already guessed this about me, I don’t watch true crime. I’m not a Law and Order junkie, or a CSI fanatic. I don’t enjoy murders and murder mysteries because I’m too sensitive. That means my brain doesn’t come up with gruesome scenarios, and let’s be honest, reality is much grimmer than my personal imagination. Some of the things people do to one another would never occur to me. But if there are police cars and a helicopter involved, the situation is probably not because someone accumulated parking tickets. Do I need to know that person lives nearby? I do not. (Note: If your google search is more fruitful than mine, please don’t tell me why the police visited my neighborhood unless it is for something innocuous like littering.)

This perspective is a huge shift for me because I want to know everything. My brain tells me I’ll be safer if I know all the details. But is that really true? Does knowing about a murder in Omaha make me safer here in Oakland? Or does it only succeed in making me scared to go to Omaha? All weekend I’ve wrestled with this, itching to check Twitter to find out what happened on Thursday. I resist because once I learn something, that information cannot be unlearned. It’s like trying to suck toothpaste back into a tube.

What also comes to mind is the converse of what I’ve shared: If I need to know something, I will. My higher power will arrange things so I find out information. I’ll run into someone at a party, I’ll overhear a conversation on the street, etc. I searched for a quote here from my spiritual teacher to throw in and came across this one: “[T]he source of physical knowledge is bound up by time, space, and person. With the change of time, space, and person, physical knowledge will change. Hence it is not a permanent knowledge.”

I derive comfort from that quote because it means even if someone awful lives behind me now, it doesn’t mean they always will. Maybe knowledge, like safety, is a snapshot in time. And if it’s a snapshot in time, what’s the point in scaring myself right now?

I dream of a world where we recognize sometimes it’s better to stay in the dark. A world where we realize if we’re meant to know something, we will. A world where we understand sometimes we don’t need to know.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about self-confidence and what I believe I’m capable of. At this point I’m paying attention to the universe and noticing over and over this year I’m making money from contract gigs and freelance assignments. Every full-time (or even part-time!) job I’ve applied for has rejected me. But the random contract gigs and freelance assignments keep rolling in.

I haven’t ruled out getting a regular job, but I’ve also decided to pursue my own business. I’m actively searching for individuals and small businesses that need blogposts, which I can write as myself, or I can ghostwrite them. (Ghostwriting means I capture the person’s voice, do all of the writing for them, but someone else is listed as the author of the piece.) You can check out my website for more information.

Seemed appropriate given the title. Photo by Free Nature Stock on Unsplash

All of this is a preamble to say I teeter on the edge of confidence and insecurity with this new venture. In some moments I exclaim, “I can do this! I’m talented! I got this!” and in others I moan, “Who am I to start a business? I’m talented but will anyone pay me what I’m worth? I’m not sure I can do this.” It has me thinking about humility. The word humility gets a bad rap and is often associated with humiliation or low self-esteem, but the way my recovery programs present humility is “simply an awareness of who we really are today and a willingness to become all that we can be. Genuine humility brings an end to feelings of inadequacy, the self-absorption, and the status-seeking.”

What I’m coming to is isn’t it a kind of cosmic arrogance to think I can’t do something if all signs are pointing toward yes, I can? Isn’t it thumbing my nose at the universe to keep declining something, to choose to keep playing small because of a notion of who think I am? I guess you could say I have a bit of an inferiority complex.

Related to this topic, Indian philosopher, poet, and linguist P.R. Sarkar said neohumanism is a philosophy that will “make people understand that they are not merely ordinary creatures. This philosophy will liberate them from all inferiority feelings and defects, and make them aware of their own importance; it will inspire them to build a new world.”

I identify as a neohumanist and that means I’m not ordinary, and neither are you. None of us are. It also means that something divine is working through me, that I’m used as a channel or a conduit. Who am I to say, “No, that can’t come through me”? To be human, it seems to me, requires surrender, letting go, and accepting what is. And sometimes that’s different and bigger than what I imagined.

I dream of a world where we practice true humility, which is an awareness of who we are and a willingness to become all we can be. A world where we accept and surrender to what the universe desires to express through us. A world where we accept sometimes the universe wants more for us than we want for ourselves, and in those cases we are still fully equipped to handle it.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Whose Bliss?

I feel drained from this weekend so I didn’t write a new post, but this question keeps coming to mind: “How do I know if I’m on the right path?” There have been a few times in the past I felt sure I knew what to do and that doors would swing open for me. However, they stayed firmly shut. Does that mean I wasn’t truly following my bliss? Or rather that my bliss hadn’t been refined yet? With all that in mind, I’m resharing a post from March 2018.

The other day a friend told me he asks people, “How do you know your bliss is the right one?” in response to the slogan “follow your bliss.” When he said that to me, I exhaled deeply. I’ve heard variations of “follow your bliss” such as “follow your bliss and the money will come” for years and it filled me with rancor. I published a book and started a publishing company and the money did not follow. Life didn’t become all sunshine and roses. In fact, the years since my book came out have been some of the hardest of my life. To recap, I moved a jillion times, my health deteriorated, my finances took a nose dive, and more. I did not receive either the internal or external promised riches.

Normally I get pissed off like a child who did exactly as she was asked and didn’t receive her reward. Where is my gold star? Why don’t I have what I’m “supposed” to? I also usually start to look at other people’s lives and say, “They followed their bliss and got what they wanted. Why didn’t it happen for me?” It’s a resentment filled adventure for sure.

I would like to see something like this all the time, thanks. Photo by Kevin Noble on Unsplash

When I ponder that “my” bliss isn’t the right one, I feel better. Perhaps “my” bliss is ego driven and self-centered. Perhaps the bliss I’m following will lead me to a place I ultimately don’t want to go. Maybe I don’t know what’s best for me and maybe I don’t know what “my” bliss is.

I am strong believer in a power greater than myself. I’ve seen over and over again that I’m guided. And if that’s true, that means there’s something doing the guiding, and more often than not, that “something” knows better and knows more than I do, which also relates to how I pray. My prayer is a variation of, “I don’t know what’s best for me universe. Only you know what’s best for me. I want what you want for me. Please align my will with yours.” I think bliss is like that. If I had it my way, I’d live a super cushy life without any drama, with money flowing in due to little effort on my part, seeing beautiful things every day, and eating decadent food. That sounds lovely, but it also means I wouldn’t confront any of my issues; I wouldn’t deal with any of my demons.

In the same conversation with my friend, I told him I can’t suppress anything and because that’s true, I’d rather confront my issues head on. Confronting my issues has made me a better person and a happier person. I don’t feel nearly as anxious as I used to and that’s a direct result of bringing my demons out of the shadows and into the light. That leads me to believe that perhaps my higher power is thinking of my long-term happiness and bliss rather than a short-term gain. Perhaps real bliss then is not mine, but what my higher power wants and I’d feel happier if I aligned my will accordingly. It’s difficult for me to maintain that perspective, but it seems worth a shot. After all, I’d much rather feel happier for a longer period of time than a shorter one.

I dream of a world where we realize sometimes our bliss takes us places that don’t serve us. A world where we understand there’s a difference between the bliss we aim for and the bliss our higher power wants for us. A world where we understand whose bliss will ultimately lead us where we want to go.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

The other day I shared a poem by Khalil Gibran on Facebook titled “Fear.” I’m sharing it again here because it’s relevant to my life right now:

It is said that before entering the sea
a river trembles with fear.

She looks back at the path she has traveled,
from the peaks of the mountains,
the long winding road crossing forests and villages.

And in front of her,
she sees an ocean so vast,
that to enter
there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.

But there is no other way.
The river cannot go back.

Nobody can go back.
To go back is impossible in existence.

The river needs to take the risk
of entering the ocean
because only then will fear disappear,
because that’s where the river will know
it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,
but of becoming the ocean.

I am that river right now. I’m traveling through mountain peaks and crossing forests. The current of life is moving me along in a direction that excites me and scares me. I’m progressing toward something I didn’t anticipate and for many years said I never wanted, yet here I am, traveling down this path. I want to run away, to turn back and go in the other direction, but like the river, I cannot. Too much momentum has built up. Will I change course? Possibly, but eventually I’ll still enter the ocean, become the ocean. It’s inevitable one way or another.

It all leads to this. Photo by Mathew Waters on Unsplash

I’m speaking in metaphors but that’s because I’m not ready to talk about what I’m going through publicly yet. A part of me doesn’t want to fully commit to this path and telling people what I’m doing means just that. Also, so much changes so quickly for me these days. The river current is rough and filled with rapids at the moment. I don’t know how things will shake out.

And yet, there’s something about becoming the ocean that speaks to me. When I look at what I’m going through, it feels like I’m becoming my truest self. I’m becoming the self I was always meant to be, which is lovely. Also, there’s the spiritual level of becoming the ocean.

My spiritual teacher often uses the metaphor of a river and the ocean to talk about the spiritual journey we’re on. How we’re flowing back to the ocean and becoming the ocean. In essence, we’re returning to Cosmic Consciousness and merging with it.

Sometimes the journey is fast and sometimes it’s slow, but it’s inevitable according to my spiritual philosophy. There’s something comforting for me about knowing the general path is laid out, that even if this river changes course, eventually I’ll still wind up in the same place: the ocean.

I don’t know if this post is making much sense, but I want to close with saying we are each becoming more fully our true selves. We are learning and growing and changing. The process can be scary at times, we may be wending our way through the dark, but we’re heading somewhere amazing and becoming who we’re meant to be.

I dream of a world where we realize our greatness. A world where we flow with the current of life. A world where we understand sometimes there comes a point where we can’t turn back and all that’s left is to keep going. A world where we become the ocean.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Right now, all over the world people are celebrating Diipavali or Diwali, a festival of lights that symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. There’s something interesting for me about how Diipavali is coinciding with the fires in California. I know October is a dry month for California so it’s no surprise my beloved state is on fire, but there’s something especially poignant about the timing of it all.

What I mean is it’s coming to light, pun intended, that Pacific Gas and Electric, the utility company in northern California, is responsible for the blazes raging both currently and last year. Last year an entire town, Paradise, burned to the ground due to PG&E’s negligence, and prompted the company to file for bankruptcy. The utility company has known about the trouble with its equipment for decades and didn’t upgrade it. It’s only now that we can pin the blame squarely on PG&E’s shoulders that something is being done about it.

One candle may kindle another to drive out darkness. Photo by Nishta Sharma on Unsplash

What I’m seeing over and over again is corruption floating to the surface. Secrets are emerging, we’re shining a spotlight in the dark corners, and watching cockroaches scuttle away. Not only with PG&E, but with the impeachment inquiry as well. Shady practices that Trump engaged in are emerging and the majority of us are saying, “No. This is not OK.”

However, unlike with Diipavali where good has triumphed over evil, I don’t think we’re there yet. Instead, we’re in the day before Diipavali, metaphorically speaking. The day before the festival is supposed to be the darkest day of the year when it seems like light will never win. It’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately. I cannot express how angry I am at PG&E, as well as the behavior of corrupt politicians and CEOs. I want to shake everyone by the shoulders and say, “No, no, no! You can’t do this!”

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone here. I notice a swell of anger and frustration erupting but where is it supposed to go? What are we supposed to do? Some are taking to the streets. Others are writing petitions or conversing with elected officials. I’m doing the same but it doesn’t feel like enough. And then I think about Diipavali. The word comes from dīpa, which means lamp or light, and āvali, which means a row, a range, continuous line, series. Essentially a lot of little lights can conquer darkness. One by one by one our actions add up to something bright and Diipavali reminds me of that.

I dream of a world where we have faith light drives out darkness. A world where we believe good conquers evil. A world where we remember our little actions coalesce into something bigger than us and creates a better world for all of us.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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