The other day, in the midst of this period of major change and disruption in the world, I happened to be listening to a audio tape by Michael Meade. He was talking about the “end of times”, which he says we as a species have felt as imminent for two hundred years at least.
That’s not to say, he hastens to clarify, that we don’t need to do absolutely everything that we can to address the challenges of our time – both cultural and environmental – but that we also need to access “eternal time” or that still small place inside us that stays constant through upsets large and small.
Meade's long-term perspective served to jolt me out of my overwhelm for a minute – and his call to center ourselves in what's permanent and unchanging is certainly an apt reminder in these times that threaten to drown us in the sheer chaos of change and uncertainty. The poet William Yeats described this moment, which has obviously come before, in the lines of his famous The Second Coming:
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
In the wake of massive challenges in our economic, political and environmental spheres, there are many life-style choices that need to be made right now – crucial choices about consumption and political representation and the fundamental will to care for ourselves and others – that will determine the ways we impact each other, create our futures and decide the fate of our species (among others).
Many of those choices, however, are not only important responses to the pressing issues of our time but choices that define what it means for each of us to be human and live a conscious life – a life of sanity and humanity. These are crucial decisions to make no matter what condition the external world is in.
Finding that “timeless” center of “right relationship” for myself, & making the daily choices that align me with it is what helps me avoid the panic & despair that the daily news would otherwise trigger in my fearful psyche.
One last thing – as Maturana and others have said so well, language – what we speak into the world with our words, our images, our voices and our movement – is of seminal importance. When we are awake and consciously languaging the lives and futures we want to bring forward into the world, for ourselves and for all beings, that is what manifests between us.
So I write this to bring an awareness of that unchanging moment and suggest that we collectively use this knowledge as our True North, our guiding star as we go forward in these days of light and shadow. That we look to what is possible and to what is being born; that we keep our eyes on "that rough beast" (or to use today's metaphor, the imaginal cells that are at this very moment forming into a butterfly) as it emerges in our midst, rather than lose ourselves in the eddies of despair and lament over what is sick and dying.
We choose our future; we speak it and imagine it in each moment of our everyday lives. Together we can make it whole and beautiful. May it be so.