The other day a close friend remarked as a society we have decided we will do anything to save a human life, which is both true and not true. It’s true that we are physically distancing, that we’re staying at home, that many businesses are closed due to COVID-19 because we want to save lives, but at the same time in the U.S. anyway we’re seeing the total opposite: valuing capital above all else.

Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick wants to reopen the state and said “there are more important things than living.” In March, he went on Fox News and said “lots of grandparents” would rather die than see the U.S. economy suffer. Also, senior citizens should “take a chance on survival” for the good of the Dow Jones. He’s not alone – Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-Ind., said that deaths due to COVID-19 were “the lesser of these two evils” compared with a failing economy. In some ways he’s right because we don’t know how many people will die because they’re out of work, they’re starving, they’re killed by domestic violence, or afraid to go to the hospital because of COVID-19. It’s a tricky life-and-death balance for sure, but all of it I think speaks to our flawed capitalistic systems.

An article in Common Dreams said whether Americans know it or not, the government is working on behalf of capital. This is evident because the government is prioritizing the health of corporate balance sheets rather than human bodies. We know this because for the most part people are going on unemployment benefits rather than remaining on existing payrolls. We know this because we ran out of federal relief money for small businesses but not big businesses.

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Bring on the revolution! Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

I keep thinking about something a finance professor at a prestigious university said to me years ago: capitalism requires an economic underclass. In order for capitalism to function, someone has to get the short end of the stick. It seems to me we’re reaching a point where the vast majority of people are in the economic underclass. I want to acknowledge some people are really, really in the underclass. Some people are suffering FAR more than others, but even people who perhaps felt comfortable before the pandemic are feeling the economic pinch now.

I said this to my neighbor a few weeks ago, but I’m reminded of Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France before the French Revolution. It’s a myth that she said, “Let them eat cake” in response to people clamoring for bread, but the sentiment is alive and well. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman wants to reopen the city’s casinos, hotels, and stadiums, but when asked if she’d be willing to spend nights on casino floors alongside other visitors, she evaded the question and then replied, “First of all, I have a family.” How very out of touch.

What am I building to here? It seems to me we’re on the cusp of a revolution. How much more suffering do we have to endure before we say enough is enough? My spiritual teacher said, “The inevitable consequence of exploitation is revolution. When the merchants, maddened with excessive greed, lose their common sense completely and forsake their humanity totally, then the opportune time has come [for revolution] …. Revolution takes place when, from the economic perspective, only two classes remain in society: the exploiters and the exploited.”

Sounds to me like we’re there. I’m ready for the revolution y’all. I’m ready for a world that guarantees basic necessities. A world that no longer operates on the false principle that anyone can become rich if they only work hard enough. A world that puts greed in check and limits how much wealth one person can accumulate. A world where we put a stop to exploitation and value living beings for how precious they truly are.

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

Life After COVID-19

The other day I learned the word “apocalypse” comes from Greek and it means to uncover or reveal. Well that certainly puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? I know the connation of apocalypse is doom and gloom, “We’re all going to die,” “The world is ending,” etc., but what if we returned to the root meaning? What if we considered apocalypses are instead times to reveal what’s not working both personally and collectively?

From that lens, we’ve survived many apocalypses. That’s not to say each apocalypse hasn’t brought its own special brand of suffering and death, because it has. I also don’t want to seem Pollyanna-ish here. I woke up this morning feeling gloomy because I know some people are not only dying from COVID-19, they’re also dying from starvation, or stuck in abusive situations at home, or falling into despair. I feel personal grief as well as collective grief. At the same time, this apocalypse is very revealing.

It’s revealing disparity, corruption, and broken systems. However, it’s also revealing kindness, compassion, and care. What’s working in our own lives? Who can we rely on right now? Where are we finding support? We’re discovering all of that as well. We’re becoming aware of what’s working and what’s not working. Something that I’ve learned over and over again is awareness is a point of power. You can’t change anything until you first know it’s there. That’s what this apocalyptic time is doing for us: bringing awareness to pretty much every facet of our individual and collective lives.

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This picture seemed fitting. Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash

In the spirit of awareness as a point of power, I want to mention four possible futures as a result of COVID-19 according to my friend Sohail Inayatullah who is a professional futurist. In a recent YouTube talk, he presents four possible scenarios: the Horrifying Future, the Needed Pause, the Great Health Awakening, and the Great Despair.

In the Horrifying Future, there’s a feeling of dread and angst. The individual feels like they can’t control anything. We experience a recession or depression.

In the Needed Pause, the next year is difficult. Everything is slower than it was before. All conferences and sporting events are canceled. We’re stuck at home and doing slower things like breathing, yoga, and meditation. Then next year life will return to normal and we’ll have business as usual.

In the Global Health Awakening, this pause fundamentally changes who we are and how we show up in the world. There are changes to global health systems and the global world economy such that we start taking care of the planet and of each other in better ways.

In the Great Despair, none of our efforts succeed, the virus comes back, and there’s danger everywhere. The stimulus packages work temporarily and then create hyperinflation. Nation states split or fracture.

All of those seem possible to me! How do we use this apocalypse to create a better world? Inayatullah says part of it is understanding wellness and wellbeing are no longer just interesting ideas, they’re vital necessities. It also helps to change the metaphor of our lives to ask who do we want to be? For instance, instead of feeling like a headless chicken, perhaps the metaphor we start using is that we’re a wise owl calmly responding to life. Or perhaps we think of ourselves as a fast cheetah, able to move swiftly in any situation.

Personally, I don’t want to keep feeling like a headless chicken, running around frantically and feeling out of control. I’d much rather contribute to the Global Health Awakening by being a wise owl, taking precautions and acting with intention. I want to help myself and my community create a world that’s more wholistic, more caring. A world that takes into account the needs of individuals as well as the collective. A world that understands the collective is what saves us, what we must rely on to thrive. A world where we each do what we can to create that bright future.

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

As people all over the world celebrate, or recently celebrated Passover and Easter, I think about how both of those stories have never felt more relevant. To jog your memory, Passover is the story of Moses, the burning bush, and the 10 commandments. What I want to focus on in this post is the part where Moses commanded the Egyptian Pharaoh of the time to let the enslaved Jews go free and the Pharaoh refused. As retribution, God delivered 10 plagues. I’m not going to relay the whole story (you can read the rest here), but if I had to sum up the story of Passover, it’s about escaping plagues and seeking freedom.

It’s interesting to me the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, also means narrow spaces. I find that especially symbolic right now as we’re all in this global pandemic and under quarantine. We’re in a tight, narrow space, but Passover is the story of moving through that, of fleeing into freedom.

Spiritual writer

This picture evoked the burning bush and liberation for me. Photo by Will Truettner on Unsplash

Easter has a similar story of freedom. The way I’ve heard author Glennon Doyle characterize Easter is it’s a story of pain (i.e., the crucifixion), then the waiting (when Jesus was in a cave), and then the rising (when he resurrected). We are collectively in the waiting place, waiting for the rising, metaphorically speaking. We’re also collectively in the tight, narrow space, as we are besieged by the COVID-19 plague.

These holidays remind us of the deep, dark, painful things that happen to us in life, sometimes personally and sometimes in society, as well as the relief from no longer being there. These holidays celebrate the thrill of leaving those narrow spaces behind and being able to roam free. Passover and Easter are holidays that celebrate hope and courage without omitting the pain. We will eventually reach the promised land, so to speak, not without cost, but it will come.

I also think about a quote I repeat regularly from my spiritual teacher who said, “Difficulties can never be greater than your capacity to solve them.” Right now our difficulties may feel insurmountable, but the holidays many of us are celebrating remind us that’s not true. The holidays remind us it can take a while, a long, long while, but eventually liberation happens.

It’s premature to celebrate just yet, but I know it’s coming. That little bit of hope is what keeps me going. I want to know what’s on the other side of all this. Don’t you? How will I be changed and how will society be changed? Right now we don’t know yet because we’re in the middle of the story, but oh my goodness, I can’t wait to find out what’s next.

I dream of a world where we remember no matter what we’re going through, eventually it will pass. A world where we remember we, too, will be liberated from our narrow spaces at some point. A world where we take heart in stories from the past and use them as fuel for the future.

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

The other day I watched a facebook video from evolutionary astrologer David Yarrow Wood. He spoke about the current transit we’re all experiencing – Saturn conjunct Pluto. He said Pluto brings up fears so we can see through them, so we can no longer be motivated by them. That line. As soon as he said it, I paused the video to cry a little.

It’s similar to what I wrote more than a month ago about life now belonging to love and anything being possible. This process of learning a new way of being started for me before the pandemic, but COVID-19 is upping the ante. I am learning to no longer be motivated by my fears. It’s hard though because I have a lot of fears and so does the worldwide society. One only has to go to the grocery store to see that. Fear is motivating people to buy toilet paper like they’re preparing for a three-month blizzard. Fear is motivating people to buy guns in higher numbers than they did months prior.

I’m afraid and you’re afraid – with good reason. The world is scary right now. I get it. And I also understand the world is scarier for some people than it is for others. That’s real. And, I ask myself what would it be like to be motivated by something other than fear? What if I wasn’t motivated by scarcity and shame? What if I approached life from a place of ease and trust and care? That may sound naïve right now when we’re in a state of emergency, but I can’t help but think life would be better for all of us if we did.

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I’m learning something new. Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Like I said, people are hoarding supplies, which causes less supply, which causes more hoarding. If instead we all bought two weeks’ worth of what we need, would we be seeing so many empty shelves? If we operated from a place of ease and grace, would our experience be different? I think so.

And it is different in different places. In other countries people continue to have healthcare. Or the government is paying everyone’s salary. Or the virus has been contained more effectively. In countries that think of the collective, that have systems to fall back on, the predominant feeling is “We’ll weather this storm,” rather than the sense we’ve been thrust into a war for which we’re ill-prepared. There’s more sense of trust and that’s something I want on a personal level too.

Because life continues, my neighbor is moving out May 1st (p.s., do you want to be my neighbor?). I’m worried about who will move in next. Fear turns me into a tornado, whirling around, spinning and spinning in my head. But that’s not particularly helpful because the reality is the right neighbor has already been selected on the cosmic level. The person who’s supposed to be there will be there. If I instead trusted the universe, I would surrender and offer it up to the divine. I would do my part emailing friends and posting the news to facebook, but then I would let go, knowing I’ll be alright. Knowing that I can handle what comes next. And that’s a wish I have for all of us.

I dream of a world where we take inspired action and then surrender the outcome. A world where we operate with a bit more trust and faith in the universe. A world where we understand we’re a part of a cosmic dance and we’re not meant to lead – we’re meant to follow. A world where we welcome a new way.

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

You know the expression “the world is your oyster”? If you think about it, the phrase doesn’t really match the connotation we have with it. We say “the world is your oyster” when we want to indicate the world is wide open, that you have numerous opportunities available to you, that sort of thing. But have you seen an oyster? They’re closed tightly, they’re dark inside. They are not warm and inviting.

Are we really saying the world is a tightly closed, dark place? Or are we saying that we’re the precious jewelry formed in oysters, a pearl? If so, that’s not particularly flattering either. Natural pearls are formed when a parasite works its way into an oyster and as a defense mechanism, the oyster coats the irritant with layer after layer until voila! A pearl.

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So pretty, yet so strange. Photo by Maximilian Hofer on Unsplash

I find the more literal meaning of “the world is your oyster” more inspiring because what I hear is the world can be scary, uncomfortable, uncertain, and through the experience of living, you will emerge a pearl. I think it’s a message we could all use more of right now during this pandemic. I recognize none of us will emerge from COVID-19 unscathed, and some of us will be more affected than others. And, this experience has we wondering how we turn out on the other side. Will we be pearls? Turned into something or someone we otherwise would not have been?

I also think about wildflowers in California after fires ravaged the land. Some species only grow because they were exposed to such high heat, which is called scarification. Spiritual teacher Tosha Silver talks about this too. She says, “True surrender to love isn’t just about being ‘guided.’ It’s a freakin holy alchemy that you can neither control nor predict. You are ravished. You are changed. But as you relax into the sometimes unbearable process, the sparkling diamond of your true nature begins to emerge.” I would change the word “diamond” to “pearl” but I think you get the point.

My spiritual practice is about finding God in everything – the mundane and the extraordinary, the suffering and the ease. There is nowhere I can go to escape the divine and that means God is here too in this process, in this pandemic. It also means its possible this pandemic is leading to a change not only in society, but also in ourselves. How will we be different on the other side of this? Will we be bright and shiny pearls stronger as a result of living in the dark, confined space that is the world right now? Maybe. It’s something I, personally, am hoping for.

I dream of a world where we remember if the world is our oyster, that means we are the pearl. A world where we understand beauty and transformation arise from hardship and that’s always been so. A world where we strive to be changed for the better as a result of our challenges and ultimately become the shining pearls we are meant to be.

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

The other day I went for a walk in the woods by my house. While on the trail, an animal turned around and stared at me for several seconds. It reminded me of a dog, but I didn’t spot an owner and also the face was too triangular. Was this some sort of cat? I kept walking and again the animal turned around. We had another moment. After seeing its tail, I realized, “That’s a fox!” I’d never seen a fox before despite living in a variety of environments. Also, the foxes from children’s books are usually deep red while this creature was more brown.

When I came home, I looked up the meaning of foxes in the book Animal-Speak by Ted Andrews. The whole entry didn’t resonate with me, but one part did. Foxes reflect “a new world opening up, that the process of creation is beginning. It reflects that the world is growing and shapeshifting itself into new patterns that will be beneficial.”

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The world is getting smaller and smaller. Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

I know COVID-19 is affecting people negatively, me too, so I don’t want to downplay that, but I’m also wondering if we’re shapeshifting into new patterns that will be beneficial for us. I think about how the National Health Service, the U.K.’s medical care system, sprang from the crisis during World War II. The government started Emergency Hospital Service to care for the wounded during the war because the issue of health provisions was a growing problem. We’re starting to see that in California right now too. The state bought two vacant hospitals to help with the influx of patients due to COVID-19. Are we seeing the beginnings of nationalized healthcare? Maybe.

I also think about how FDR enacted the New Deal during the Great Depression. He promised he would act swiftly to face the “dark realities of the moment” and assured Americans he would “wage a war against the emergency.” I realize Trump is no FDR, but perhaps this is where state’s rights will come into play more and each state will enact policies to benefit its residents.

On a micro level, people seem to be kinder right now. Neighbors are helping neighbors, people are checking up on the elderly, procuring food for those in need, and donating when and where they can. I’ve heard many a comparison to the days following 9/11, but I didn’t live in New York then and didn’t experience the outpouring of kindness and consideration that so many people mention. In my part of the world, things pretty much continued as usual. In this time, we are all affected regardless of our geography. The entire globe is experiencing the same thing to a greater or lesser degree.

My spiritual teacher says during periods of psychic and physical clash like we’re all experiencing “the existential feelings of human beings do not remain confined to their physical bodies alone, but spread to those around them. Initially they think about the welfare of the members of their own families, but with the gradual evolution of their minds, they see themselves as members of a global society and become actively engaged in promoting the well-being of all.”

I think that’s what’s happening here, at least for now. We’re seeing ourselves as part of a global society and promoting the well-being of all. Things are hard and scary right now, absolutely. But maybe as a result of this pandemic we’ll all start caring about each other more and we’ll enact programs that benefit the many instead of the few. That’s my wish anyway.

I dream of a world where we recognize we’re all in this together. A world where we understand we’re a global society and it’s important to promote the well-being of everyone. A world where we take better care of each other because we recognize what affects one person affects us all.

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

Lately I’ve been thinking about how as much as history is filled with stories of human suffering, it’s also filled with stories about overcoming it. In my own life, I’m prone to tell the former more than the latter. For instance, I’m quick to tell people I was hit by a car as a pedestrian, but rarely do I mention the strangers who stopped for me, who drove me home, who copied down the license plate number. Nor do I mention my friends who rushed over to comfort me, to ply me with arnica and rescue remedy.

Instead of a testament to the kindness of others, I broadcast the tragedy. Even now I notice it’s easier for me to get stuck in the present moment in a bad way. I think the present moment will last forever and have trouble maintaining perspective. It’s hard for me to feel optimistic about my personal future.

I’m reminded here of my maternal grandmother. During the Holocaust, she hid in a potato cellar with a rabbi and his family for 11 months. The living conditions were hellish, as I’m sure you can imagine. Not to mention she contracted typhus and couldn’t get proper medical care because, well, she was in hiding. She wanted to die and the rabbi said to her, “You will get through this. Your life will get better.” My grandma thought he’d lost his mind. She did get through it and her life did get better. Not every moment was a party, but she experienced joy again, which she didn’t think was possible.

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True story: I spotted a rainbow on my walk home today. Not this one though. Photo by Simon John-McHaffie on Unsplash

During hard times it’s difficult to remember things change, but they do. Even if I look at the coronavirus as an example, I see that’s true. A month ago I didn’t know it existed and now schools are closed, events are canceled, flights are grounded. A lot has happened very quickly. The same is true for us. Our lives can change in an instant. When I say that, I usually think of it in the negative, as in, forecasting terrible things, but the reality is life can change for the better in an instant too. I could sign a new client tomorrow. I could bump into my future husband on the street after we’ve both emerged from social isolation. A year from now my novel could be a bestseller. I truly don’t know.

Again taking the coronavirus as an example, the air is clearing in China, CO2 emissions are down, and eating wild animals is banned. People are singing across the street to each other every day in Italy. We are all learning how to slow down and connect with one another in new ways, which is beautiful.

I realize we all have a negativity bias and it’s a protective mechanism, but what if we started to skew in the other way? What if we started to search for the positive? For the hope? What if more of us could be like that rabbi in hiding with my grandma and fiercely believe the world would get better? That our lives would get better? Maybe believing it would make it so.

I dream of a world where we maintain our perspective. A world where we remember the present moment is fleeting. A world where we acknowledge suffering as well as the overcoming of it. A world where we hold on to hope for the future as much as we can.

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

If I had to characterize the mood of last week, I would say “panicked.” In my circles at least, people are freaking out about the upcoming presidential election. It has a life or death tenor to it. On top of that, the coronavirus is sweeping the world and people are freaking out because there’s a literal life or death element. Conferences are being canceled, travel plans have been thwarted. Cities are discouraging nonessential public events. I get it, and as an empath I also feel it. My adrenal glands haven’t felt this taxed in months. What to do about it?

For me, the answer is slow down. When I slow down, I’m no longer in panic or hysteria because the two cannot coexist. Even right now I’m breathing deeply into my belly. I’m noticing the pause between the inhalation and exhalation. And I’m also saying to myself, “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. I’m not ever going anywhere.” Do I still feel the niggling of fear at the outer edges? Yes I do. But not as intensely as before, and that’s progress.

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This picture makes more sense after reading the next paragraph because I’m talking about waving the white flag. Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

I also think about surrender here. To surrender means to stop fighting. For me, that means to stop fighting reality, to accept what is right here and right now with the understanding life can change in an instant. When I slow down and accept reality, I notice what arises is grief. I’m sad y’all. I’m sad about the state of the world. I’m sad that minorities are being treated poorly en masse. I’m sad people are ravaging the environment. I’m sad I’m struggling financially. Panic I think is a way to push aside feelings and instead dwell in the “action” state. If I’m running around like a chicken with its head cut off, then I don’t have to sit with my own fear, anger, or sadness. And if you’re paying attention, there’s much be fearful, angry, or sad about.

I think we’re all looking for a parent. We all want someone to come in and take care of us, to make everything better without effort on our part. Maybe I’m projecting, but it certainly seems that way. There’s an expectation our political leaders will act as good parents, and then when they show themselves to be fallible human beings, we’re disappointed. So the question becomes, who can be the parent we’re looking for? Some people get in touch with their own inner loving parent. Some people turn to God or higher power for soothing. As for me, I’m relying on both. I’m parenting myself and I’m also working on surrendering to something greater than me.

I’ve written about surrender a lot over the years. I wish I could surrender once and be done with it, but that’s not how my life goes. Instead, I’m learning to surrender over and over again. Right now, I’m saying, “OK God. OK.” Those seven letters pack a punch. They’re a simple way for me to express that I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t know what’s best for me. I’m offering it to God. I wish I could be a woman of faith who completely trusts in the universe. I’m crazy envious of people like that, but the reality is I’m not that person. Sometimes I trust in my higher power and sometimes I don’t. And sometimes I’m brought to my knees like with the current situation we’re all facing. I’m doing my part – voting, washing my hands, etc. – but the reality is I’m not in control. All that’s left for me to do is let go. “OK God. OK.”

I dream of a world where we slow down. A world where we feel our feelings and understand the wisdom in taking inspired action. A world where we recognize we’re not in control of everything and we’re able to let go. A world where we’re able to surrender because sometimes that’s the only action we can take.

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

All is Provided

I’ve written about this topic several times over the years, but it bears repeating. Right now as I’m in a transition phase of my life, being self-employed and all, I’m building my faith muscle. Particularly, faith that everything I need is and will be provided. At the same time, I’m working to let go of control and to trust that all will be well.

This weekend one of my closest friends picked me up for an excursion. She asked me to be ready by 8:45. I’m a punctual person, but not so much in the morning. It takes me a looooong time to get ready and more often than not I’m a little late when it comes to morning appointments. On Saturday, I dawdled a little too long on my phone and lounging in my bed. Anxiety ticked up because I worried I’d be late. I don’t like to keep people waiting, especially when they’re driving over to my house. The anxiety escalated and escalated because by 8:30 I hadn’t brushed my teeth, changed out of my pjs, or eaten breakfast. For some people 15 minutes is plenty of time to do all those things. For me, it’s not.

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Everything will be given. Photo by Chungkuk Bae on Unsplash

My “Oh no!” voice started squawking and I took a deep breath and said a prayer, inspired by the new author and spiritual teacher I’m reading, Tosha Silver. She wrote a book called Change Me Prayers that invokes transformation by starting her prayers with “change me.” For instance, “Change me, divine beloved, into one who relaxes with great ease into the unknown.” In the midst of my freak out on Saturday, I said with earnestness, “Change me, divine beloved, into someone who is OK being late sometimes. Or have my friend run a little late to give me more time. I trust you and know that you’ll have what’s best for all of us happen. Thank you. Amen.” And then wouldn’t you know it, my friend was seven minutes late. It’s not very much, but it was enough to ensure I could finish getting ready.

It’s a small thing, but the incident reminded me everything I need is given to me. That there is a divine intelligence at play in the universe, and I don’t have to keep a tight fist of control on everything. When I’m anxious, I’m trying to make things go my way and worry that they won’t. I wanted to be ready at 8:45 on the dot even though I truly needed more time considering how I’d already spent my morning. Things unfolded in such a way that my needs were met, and my friend’s needs were met. When I pray, I open myself to my higher power’s will, which is precisely what my spiritual teacher advocates.

He says the best prayer is, “Do whatever You think fit and best for me. I do not know in which way lies my good – You know.” Because praying in that way is offering it to Cosmic Consciousness, it’s surrendering to something greater than yourself with the reminder the human brain only knows and sees so much. Do I know whether it’s in my highest and best good to sign that client or marry that person? No, because I don’t know everything. But God, Supreme Consciousness, Brahma, etc. is omniscient and knows waaaay more than I do. And furthermore, when I put my life in the hands of that loving entity, that’s when miracles occur and I witness over and over again that all is provided.

I dream of a world where we surrender to a power greater than ourselves. A world where we pray for what’s in our highest and best good to transpire. A world where we let go as much as we can and recognize everything we need will be provided to us.

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

Something funny happened to me. This morning I read in Tosha’s Silver’s book It’s Not Your Money that sometimes when we’re angry we need to break something. She recommends plates but it could be anything – stuffed animals, coconuts, phone books. I felt the urge to break something but then talked myself out of it because I didn’t want to deal with the clean up. Even if I broke plates in my garage I can’t leave shards lying around. I mean, I suppose I could, but people park in there. What would happen to their tires? Therefore I dismissed breaking anything and considered buying a coconut later this week.

I grabbed my water glass and wouldn’t you know it – it hit my counter in such a way that it shattered. Not into a million pieces thank goodness, but enough to mean I pulled out the vacuum cleaner. It was kind of satisfying to hear and see the glass smash AND it was also a pain in the butt to clean up the debris. Some people might think my experience just now was a coincidence but I’m not a butterfingers. I don’t regularly break dishes. In fact, the last time I broke a water glass was more than four years ago, so we can’t chalk it up to me being a klutz.

Spiritual writer

Not my glasses. Photo by Jana Sabeth on Unsplash

I’m writing about this, I’m making meaning out of the broken glass, because I think it indicates what’s in my best good will happen. I may try to prevent it, but it will happen. Also, sometimes what’s best for me will hurt or be annoying. In this instance, I cut myself. I bled a little. And I had to clean up the broken glass. It wasn’t fun, I didn’t enjoy it, but the part of me that needed to break something feels satisfied. Emotionally I feel better.

I’m also thinking about samskaras here, or reactive momenta. Samskaras are related to the law of karma, or the law of action. As we know, for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. But what happens if the reaction takes a second? Or more than a second? That potential reaction, the seed of the reaction to an action, is called a samskara in Sanskrit. According to my spiritual tradition, we carry these samskaras with us from one lifetime to the next. When a samskara is expressed, we often attribute that to luck, both good and bad.

I spend a lot of time thinking about luck. I long for good luck and I worry about bad luck. “Worry” isn’t quite the right word, it’s more like obsess. Especially when it comes to safety. I’m scared to go to movie theaters because I’m worried about mass shootings. I’m nervous attending religious services for the same reason. The first thing I do when I enter a space is notice the exits in case I need to make a quick getaway. Some of this is warranted, I do live in the U.S. after all, but I worry about these things as if noticing them will prevent them from happening. If I’m hypervigilant, then nothing can happen to me, right? Weeeellllllllll.

Another way to think of samskaras is to equate them with a curriculum. There are certain things that are meant for us in this lifetime. We can’t run away from them as much as we try. It’s why the healthiest person you know gets cancer. Or your friend can’t find a job despite applying all over creation. It would be easy to sink into defeatism here. To say, “Oh well. That’s my fate. Can’t do anything about it,” but that’s both true and not true. We make new samskaras all the time. How we show up in the world still matters AND certain things are inevitable. I think what this comes down to is serenity, encapsulated by the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Right now, I’m figuring out what I can change and what I can’t. I’m working on accepting what’s coming to me, both good and bad. How can I be more serene? That, my friends, is the work.

I dream of a world where we recognize what’s needed in our lives will happen. A world where we understand what’s necessary isn’t always pleasant. A world where we realize someone else’s life curriculum isn’t necessarily ours and vice versa. A world where we live in serenity as best we can one day at a time.

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

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