When I lived in North Carolina, a tree fell on my neighbor’s car. He was upset and hired some guys to cut down many of the tall pine trees on his property. I cowered in the house that day, cringing at the sound of the chainsaws and the toppling trees. It felt like members of my kin were being executed.
Now, there is a conflagration of forests on the West Coast of the US. It’s driven, I understand, partially by the climate crisis and 100 years of suppression of small fires. Each day, I hear the total acres affected climb (over 300,000 in Oregon alone). From my safe perch in Minnesota, I mourn the loss.
Desmond Tutu said, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” I don’t have his faith, but I can borrow it for a moment. I can believe that my living lightly on the earth will contribute. If enough of us do this and vote our consciences, then we can have overwhelming impact. So I do my little bit of good.
Pema Chodron said, “Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. The trick to doing this is to stay with emotional distress without tightening into aversion, to let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance.” So I stay with my uncomfortable feelings of loss, powerlessness, and hopelessness. I let them soften me and practice compassion toward myself, the earth, and all who dwell here.
I let the feelings of sadness and helplessness wash over me and imagine that they are ways and I am a surfer. I let them carry me forward to the firm sand. I am traveling to the beach of compassion and calm.
Finally, I send blessings to all affected by the same grief I feel. I breathe in sadness, fear, and hopelessness – mine and others – and breathe out the light of energy and sanity. May we all be comforted. May we all find energy for our little bits of good. may we all find our way through the darkness into light
This process applies any time you are washed in Big Emotions. 1. Do What you can to address the situation that gave rise to them. 2. Move gently toward uncomfortable feelings, letting them soften you. 3. Send blessings to all those affected by similar feelings. Emotions become the fuel of transformation.