Fear & Compassion

Memoir

Last week I decided to stop looking at any and all sources of news and current event information.

The result?

Instant relief; sustaining well-being.

The anger, anxiety, frustration, and stress that I would feel in reaction to this content is all gone.

It seemed like everything was bad news. And with this obsessive focus on the negative were storylines that always included blaming, shaming, and polarizing.

The refusal to accept life as it is, and our scarcity culture (with all its finger-pointing, division, hatred, and messaging that we are not enough), come from a place of fear.

Fear of change.
Fear of loss or lack of control.
Fear of uncertainty.
Fear of illness.
Fear of death.

I’m trying to feel compassion for the fear-mongers and the fearful.

This is a challenge – my anger at the injustice and selfishness can get in the way. It’s hard to drop my own pointing finger of judgment that I have aimed at what I think is wrong.

Can I be critical and compassionate at the same time?

I suppose that I believe in my own version of what is “right” and what is “true” as much as other people believe in theirs.

We all handle fear differently.

Fear is not meant to be avoided, denied, conquered, eliminated, repressed, or weaponized.

In doing so, the mind is poisoned and we lose sight of our connection with our integrity, with others, and with our calling to constructively respond to reality.

Fear is biological and natural – like other emotions, it sends us messages and offers an invitation to work kindly with it as we pay attention, learn what’s underneath the feeling and could benefit from our care, and take responsible action.

Not everyone understands this about fear. (I didn’t for most of my life). And even those who do understand may not be able to summon the courage and strength required to work with this challenging emotion. (I certainly can’t all of the time).

Remembering this helps me as I practice extending compassion to everyone… including myself.

Negativity & Gratitude

Memoir, Photography

It’s so easy to be swept up by all the negativity; to feel crushed and drowning in the undertow.

Every day there is fresh pain erupting from wounds that have not yet had the chance to scab or heal.

Every day the lines of division and hatred burrow deeper trenches; erect higher barricades.

Every day The Other becomes a more dangerous and loathsome enemy in the ongoing war against anything perceived as different, opposing, threatening.

Every day the justification feverishly escalates to polarize, condemn, attack, conquer, and eliminate.

I recognize that much of my thoughts, moods, and expressions are reflections of my exposure to this negativity, and I’m committed to being responsible about how I project this in my mind, communication, and interactions.

The practice of gratitude keeps me from being completely overwhelmed by the disgust, hopelessness, frustration, and fear that I feel in response to all this madness in the world outside my home.

There are many things for which I am thankful, including that I am healthy and privileged enough to be creating and sharing this message.

I would like to honor the blessings that have been shining a light in the darkness of recent days, filling my heart with happiness and gratitude.

To start this series, I’ll carry on a tradition that I used to enjoy years ago in photography forums – Caturday.

Leto is a constant source of joy, wonder, and love.

I am so thankful to have found him, to be able to provide him with a healthy, safe, and loving home, and to spend each day marveling at his beauty, mischief, tranquility, and sweet affection.

For Good

Memoir

I am trying to regulate and process thoughts and reactions in the most healthy and helpful way possible.

Some of the emotions feel destructive – I want to channel them into something constructive.

What do I do with this anger, disgust, frustration?

What do I do with this fear, helplessness, hopelessness?

I feel like I’m on an island, looking out at a vast sea of apathy and selfishness.

Pandemic numbers continue to rise, including record-breaking highs here in Florida… and yet rather than choosing restraint, patience, compromise, consideration, and kindness, citizens and politicians continue to defy, deny, distract.

People are sick or dead because of those who choose comfort, ego, and immediate gratification over courage, rationale, safety, and compassion.

Where, when, how does this end?

I can’t let the anger fuel me.

I can’t let the fear consume me.

How can I use these emotions for good?

Tired

Memoir

I’m tired.

Tired of the words COVID, pandemic, virus, wear a mask, wash your hands, sanitize, quarantine, lockdown, social distancing.

Tired of saying “I don’t know” to my daughter everytime she asks when this will be over.

Tired of hearing my daughter say “I just want this to be over.”

Tired of thinking “I just want this to be over.”

Tired of frustration and impatience.

Tired of feeling drained, demotivated, disconnected.

Tired of lethargy and loneliness.

Tired of uncertainty.

Tired of crying.

Tired of pacing around the apartment, going from living room to bedroom and back again.

Tired of walking the same loop in the neighborhood around the lake; the same little path in the neighborhood woods.

Tired of sitting on the couch.

Tired of wondering when I will be able to see my loved ones around the country and across the world again.

Tired of wondering when my daughter will be able to be around other children again.

Tired of wondering when our family will be able to vacation and travel again.

Tired of seeing people not wearing masks and not socially distancing.

Tired of feeling angry and judgmental about those people.

Tired of having the health and life of myself, my loved ones, our community, our world endangered by apathy, ignorance, and selfishness.

Tired of a reality that I didn’t cause or create, that I don’t deserve, that could have been avoided if we had actual leadership and if that leadership had acted with rationale, empathy, and responsibility instead of denial, greed, and a flagrant disregard for life.

I’m tired.

Empathy & Honesty

Memoir

I have put off writing this.

Put off, put off, put off.

I have avoided, delayed, distracted, made excuses.

First it was about privacy; my discomfort with sharing my thoughts and experiences with strangers – justifying to myself that sharing my poetry was different because I was somehow removed from those words and the feelings they expressed due to the form and structure of the writing; that the writing was abstract and not too personal or revealing.

Next it was about my state of mind; my depleted energy – the despair, loneliness, sadness; the anxiety and uncertainty. I couldn’t find the will to write, not after a full day of having to keep it together for my job; for my daughter; for my partner. Hours and hours of having to find a way to interact, to smile, to normalize, to strategize self-care, to avoid the feelings of entrapment and resentment and hopelessness that were closing in on me.

Then it was about comparison – who am I to bemoan my situation when I am still healthy, employed, sheltered, fed, and loved? What is my suffering in light of the agony of the sick, and their loved ones, and those who are abused and oppressed?

Finally it was the guilt of privilege that kept me silent. The privilege of having the access and technology to share this post; the privilege of having the education that afforded me the skills to be able to write it. The privilege of having steady employment, income to pay the bills with money left over, a safe home, a vehicle, a phone, clothes, food, entertainment. The privilege of having access to a library brimming with free books that can slake my thirst for imagination and information. The privilege of options. The privilege of safety. The privilege of not having to fear or fight, or my child not having to fear or fight, cruelty, discrimination, hatred, injustice, systematic oppression, violence, murder because of our beliefs, ethnicity, orientation.

But the words refuse to stay bottled up and pushed down inside of me.

The words are in my blood and my breath and my hands now.

I search for a glimmer of promise that a world ravaged by a pandemic will soon find and distribute a safe cure to end this illness; that a world ravaged by fear, hatred, and intolerance in all its disgusting forms will actualize true reconciliation and reform to uphold the right to dignity, equality, and safety for all people; that apathy, greed, and selfishness will be replaced with compassion, generosity, and serious, sustaining action to heal and protect animals, the environment, and humanity.

Let us honor the experiences and feelings of others – amplify the voices of those who deserve and need to be heard. Consider the causes that stir your spirit and take action. Help to influence and implement growth and improvement – in your life, your home, your interactions, your community, your country, your world.

If you are reading this and feel angry, depressed, frightened, hopeless, but desperately wanting release, relief, and progressive change – you are not alone.

Share your story; I will continue to share mine with empathy and honesty.