What Matters?

The gentle rhythm of these recent days that my husband and I have carved out feel nice.

Yes, we’re limited with where we go, although we do have the ‘privilege’ of plenty of outdoor space to roam around in (I never ever want to have to write that sentence again: to suggest that roaming around outdoors is a privilege…), but the gentle pace, the focus on wholesome food, progressively building exercise, replenishing rest and sleep, regular contact with family, doing what we can plus the lack of ‘pressure’ feel better than before.

Our days were not previously raucous, by the way, but they had their own relative sense of urgency to them…

On letting go of certain things, we are beginning to build a picture of what it is that we wish to create in our future. (Freedom of movement is one of those by the way; I’m sure it is for you too.) And right now, taking some of our quiet time to deeply consider our future is going to be pretty important.

Otherwise, the ‘state’ will decide for us, or you.

And one imagines that those decisions will include yet more of the restrictive measures which serve to further make money for the pharmaceutical-military-governmental complex. These money-making schemes fundamentally have very little to do our wellbeing and real markers of rudimentary health. What’s more they place the wellbeing of the planet pretty close to the bottom of key objectives as well.

 

Inconsistencies

We’re seeing a lot of inconsistencies coming up during this phase of confinement. From, which sectors of society get to social distance and which are expected to carry on as before. (This is even more highlighted in the ‘developing country’ in which we live and believe me it’s startlingly clear that some sectors of society appear to ‘count’ and others, well, don’t particularly. This is not easy viewing, for the record.)

To, those who are working harder and harder, while some are not working at all. (No one is at fault of course; this time is simply heightening the already existing patterns which have been lying underneath the surface for a long time – and essentially that is that we have systems which do not altogether serve the citizens).

In some cases, people are reliant on external means to earn their living, such as the physical location that they work in and for others, the capacity to continue working remains possible…but their stress levels have sky-rocketed as they are expected to carry on seamlessly (but in some mishmashed way because there’s a semblance of ‘working online’ – which doesn’t quite work seamlessly).

Plus they’re looking after the kids at the same time.

The deeper question here is: why aren’t we all simply reliant on our skills?

Plus there are the, at times, farcical inconsistencies of ‘what you actually should or shouldn’t do, and when’, who’s stipulated what, and those who have decided it’s up to them to create the rules… (Invariably the absence of validated information…or common sense.)

And of course, there’s the inconsistency of the measures still being in place when the evidence of the statistics is now showing that previous models were inaccurate, and that it’s quite quite ‘safe’ to go for a stroll in the park. (Notwithstanding that people have died. ‘People’, it has to be said, die all the time. My great uncle has died in the middle of all this. Not because of any spurious new virus, but because he was really really old, and he’d clearly decided it was his time to depart. God love him.)

Mostly these inconsistencies which are being highlighted to us are effectively having the effect that we are paying attention!

If we all pay attention, and then choose that we no longer wish for such restrictive measures imposed to induce fear and panic, and neither do we wish for the social injustices to exist in the world that we want to be living in, then hopefully, we’ll start taking action. Therefore, that these gross incongruities and imbalances are coming to the surface is not a bad thing. (Notwithstanding that a lot (more) people are currently undergoing hardship, and we all wish for this to be temporary.)

It seems as if these irregularities are surfacing to show us that collectively we’d lost track of what really matters.

Individually, I’m hopeful that we haven’t, but collectively we’ve allowed decisions to be taken on our behalf, and about issues that matter, insidiously but seemingly without so much as a by-your-leave.

And what we’re starkly seeing reflected back to us isn’t very pretty. (That’s because it hasn’t been for a good long while.)

If it is the case that, collectively, we have chosen to abdicate our individual say of what matters, not to mention our individual responsibility to uphold that what we deeply believe counts, at what point are we going to turn around and say, ‘I’m no longer prepared to compromise on this…’

It’s true that while we’re trying to hold on to the nuts and bolts of our jobs and doing what we can (which is a most admirable, innate human quality), social activism may not be our number one priority, but we need to ask ourselves right now, have our societal values simply become lost in some rather spurious metrics? But mostly, if this isn’t the time for rising up to advocate change from the inside out, then when is going to be?

 

So what matters?

Our children matter. Our children – the children of the world – not just ‘our’ children.

Children who experience love from fully present parents establish an unshakeable internal sense of worth and confidence. Their esteem is such that they are more content to venture out into the world and more secure in themselves as a consequence of receiving unconditional love during their early years.

Being outside and in the mud and dirt matters enormously too. This matters for all of us, but it especially matters both to, and for children. It is, in part, how the immune system builds. Mud pies, love and contact and wholesome, chemical free, real and living food too.

Real and living food which is not contaminated by toxic chemicals, or genetically modified to what end effect?

Our children deserve wholesome, chemical-free, real and living food to nourish them to grow into healthy adults. Food which grows, not plastic processed food that comes in packaging.

 

Compassion matters

Dying well matters.

My father was very ill and for a long time – and I’m talking years when I say that. I also say that it was because of my mother’s wonderful home cooking that he lived as long as he did, but here’s the thing, he deteriorated and was eventually hospitalised.

And when he could no longer walk or talk, and then, when eventually he could no longer swallow because his system had deteriorated so much, ’they’ – the doctors – decided to put a ‘PEG’ straight into his stomach to feed him.

So that he could live in that way for a few more weeks.

What a disgrace.

As a family, we weren’t even given a choice about what we wanted for him. As if we hadn’t all lived in our suspended grief for long enough. No, let’s make sure the end is dragged out for a long as conceivably possible…

For what purpose?

And although this is many many years ago now, and I’m not angry at the doctors who were locked into a system that perceives this ‘continuation of life at all costs’ as valid (but I ask, what kind of life?), we should all be angry at a system whose foundation is that life at any cost is worth living.

This isn’t just about my father of course, it’s also about the innumerable souls who suffer brain injuries and are ‘saved’…to live the rest of their life in a hospital room able only to blink and groan. For decades sometimes. Family members equally living in some kind of suspended animation. For decades sometimes.

And of course, it’s also about the people dying right now – the elderly, the frail, the vulnerable – who aren’t even allowed to be visited and held by their family.

We are all going to die.

Dying well – peacefully and with dignity – matters.

Culturally we’re accepting practices around dying and death which are way off being in line with our inbuilt human values of compassion and respect.

But what matters just as much as how we die is life and how we live…

 

…and living a life which you love – that matters

When we share our gifts, the reciprocal sense of fulfilment is unequivocal. And that’s when we share our gifts. What we receive back as a function of giving is priceless. And indeed, it shouldn’t have a price.

The health benefits of such fulfilling satisfaction does not have a price ticket, and every single one of us has extraordinary gifts. Some are just better at packaging theirs up and at marketing.

When our creativity is nourished through purposefully developing our natural talents, not only does our life become more balanced (rather than the one-tracked mode that modern life has increasingly pursued, where commute-work-spend has become our axiom for ‘a life well spent’…), our stress levels diminish, and then of course our wellbeing improves and health indicators augment.

There is nothing but a positive cycle from nourishing creativity.

 

Community matters

Community matters, and community matters matter.

The deep fabric of health and wellbeing is dependent upon our sense of belonging, our sense of security as a result and our contact and connection with people. These are also metrics of a good life lived. Effects of community have long been studied, but really do we need ‘studies’ to tell us that life feels better when we care for one another?

I’m sure that there are other aspects which actually count as meaningful to life.  Finding forgiveness, being patient, fully expressing ourselves, kindness…tending to something to watch it grow and flourish.

But community is where the heart of life lies – where meaningful things happen – not just practical, functional things, but where people get to use their voice and to be heard,.and as such where they are acknowledged and therefore valued.

And the knock-on effects of this are positively endless…

 

Being angry

Have you been angry yet? Have you been angry during our current situation?

Although I’m not directly referring to being angry at flights being cancelled and plans aborted, I am referring to how our liberties have been taken away – and how we’ve allowed that to happen.

Don’t misconstrue me here. At the outset, this virulent little blighter was an unknown entity…but more I’m talking about the inconspicuous ways in which our freedom has increasingly fallen at the behest of ‘the people in power’ – and before 2020. The surveillance cameras everywhere, the endless targeted ads, the sneaky way cancelling free internet trials ‘just’ happen to slip through the net and onto your bank statement. Again and again.

And we’ve put up with it. Perhaps with a good old grumble indoors and even written a harsh review, but we’re still putting up with it. Over and over.

When will our collective anger result in action? Not aggressive action – that’s no good to man nor beast. (And we’re not even going to touch on our responsibility towards the animals…not today anyway.)

Purposeful, peaceful, decisive action. Which is only possible when we have resolved our anger…but initially anger, when appropriately processed, is a catalyst for action.

For right-action.

*

I’ve had my moment of anger. Two in fact. The first happened when I was unable to leave the grounds of my residence without stipulating where I was going. I know – this has been happening in various locations around the world – but it hadn’t been mandated where we live…just some power-happy player deciding to make up his own rules.

The other incident occurred when some shop worker pointed a gun at me. A thermometer gun, granted, but no explanation, just an expectation that that’s ok. An assumed expectation, I accept, assumed from his/her employer…and said employee simply carrying out his ‘orders’. Again not mandated for…

But is that ok? Is it acceptable to point, perhaps with slightly different intents and purposes, a gun at someone and expect cooperation – with no explanation?

That’s not ok to me.

And both incidents made me cry. A) Out of deep sadness, and B) because this can be a way of processing anger for me and to release the emotion, but C) in order to open the path to do something about what I saw when the anger rose up.

 

Suspended pain

Anger is deep pain coming up.

Some people have side-lined their pain by getting stressed. Stress and the heady-ness of anxiety by-pass the processing stage though. They put us in an altered state of projection – they take us out of connection to the present moment – and this suspends the pain point (perhaps indefinitely).

Missing the connection to the present moment is akin to missing the moment when we get to process the deeper emotion. To recognise, understand and consequently to release the emotion, but equally as importantly to realise what needs action as a consequence.

Stress and anxiety keep us superficially distracted, and in a perpetuating cycle of inaction. (And they work; I’m pretty sure that we’ve all experienced one of these moments in the last few weeks.)

And we’re going to need to take action sometime soon.

 

Deep pain

I don’t know about you but I know that I experience life utterly torn between beholding moments of sheer beauty and incredible humility at the splendour of the world and her exquisite creativity and experiencing deep pain in response to the destruction and ugliness that we’re creating out of a compulsion to control (everything in nature, not just us) and ‘use’ it – completely, in lots of cases.

I know that I’ve experienced deep pain about this for a long while. There’s a rampant artificiality that we’ve become addicted to – rip up the earth, construct indestructible concrete structures…but paint them agreeable colours so we can be appeased by the latest disruption to the landscape; social media perfection and worse, selling of souls (and anything going) to become an ‘influencer’…; the eternal addiction to bigger, better, faster, or the falsehood of aiming towards becoming ‘seemingly’ more youthful, even as we age.

And all the while, as we’re distracted by the endless shopping opportunities and aggressive ‘entertainment’ which normalises violence and killing, we’ve forgotten that that beautiful, pristine landscape can never ever be restored, that the innocence of our children is being robbed at a younger and younger age…and we’re fooling ourselves into thinking that a long life – and preferably without wrinkles – is worth living…at any cost.

 

So what’s the price?

The price we’re paying for these ‘joys’ (‘perks’) of our modern life are that we’re being controlled.

Currently, we’re being told where we can or can’t go. But generally, we’re controlled in numerous albeit seemingly innocuous ways – how fast we can drive (arguably a safety concept is linked in with this one); where we can and can’t park our car once we get there, or even which months of the year the dog is allowed to feel the sand underneath his or her paws…and in all sorts of other little, but cumulative ways which have led us to live a pretty dismal, constricted existence.

‘Abiding but the rules’ because why? We haven’t got the maturity to act like self-organising adults..?

Perhaps not everyone has.

And why haven’t they? Why haven’t they had the opportunity to learn life’s lessons appropriately, to be guided and mentored adequately to reach adulthood with maturity.

Start probing, and you’ll find the deep cracks in our society that we prefer to fill up with polyfiller and gloss over.

It’s just that the cracks are really showing themselves now, and it turns out that they’re pretty deep…

But perhaps not irreversible, if we’re willing to inspect them closely enough.

 

Big questions

I’m hopeful that hope is not lost, if we’re willing to ask the big questions about what we really want, and what we’re prepared to give up in order to preserve what’s really important.

(That is, if you don’t quite fancy the idea of more mass control, being stripped of our bodily autonomy and surveillance for the rest of your life.)

Big questions such as, is this what truly living feels like?

What’s really important to me? What am I happy to let go of? What perceived ‘conveniences’ am I prepared to forego, in order that our liberties are preserved, or so that the earth is no longer ravaged, but rather protected…

How prepared am I to stand up in order to protect these things that I value in life?

How prepared am I to preserve what’s really important?

What doesn’t sit in integrity with what I deeply believe to be righteous, earthen and wholesome…?

And when am I going to say that I, or we, will no longer tolerate this…or that, or the other?

Personally, I’m sitting with just these questions. In order for me to make some sense out of this situation, and to see beyond the trials of this pernicious virus, and see, not into the future per se, but deeper into the issues that it’s highlighting. Deeper into where my pains lie and what I’m willing to do about it to no longer live with these pains…

But instead with the inner peace that is everyone’s right.

 

Photo by Nenad Tocilovac