To React or To Resist?

I want to feel good about life

The air outside feels so heavy. The clouds are super sinister some days more than others. The Facebooks are the worst. Alarmist, projectionist, reactionary, resistance. They’re all the same words. We fight against those who don’t believe the same things we do, without realizing that our real fight is with a far worse enemy.

We are using the language of resistance, telling others what to do, but in our resistance, we clam up. Our entire body tenses. And half the time, we're reacting. 

And I think I know what that enemy is. No, it’s not fascism or the government or the powers that be.

It’s ourselves.

Someone called me out on that last week, and it cut me to my core.

“You’re your own worst enemy.”

I’m – what? I’m working on myself all the time. I’m always finding ways to improve, to be a better person, to bring more love into the world, to light up the life I walk through every day. How can I be simultaneously destroying myself?

I was mad at that person, angry at them for thinking they could diagnose all my problems, angry at them for criticizing my work without seeing the full picture, hurt by them for failing to listen and respond to me properly. And perhaps those things are all true, and they do owe me an apology for all of the above.

But I can’t fix that.

I can fix me.

I can apologize to myself for not always listening to my highest needs, for putting other needs before my own that instead of creating expansiveness in the world, bring restriction about by slowly chipping away at the light source that is within me, instead draining it until there’s nothing left.

I can apologize to myself for failing to link up with the allies out there, instead cowering in fear that all are out to get me.

I can apologize to myself for suppressing the pain because the world doesn’t need more of it, without remembering that the only way out is all the way through, and it’s okay to cry.

And I can apologize to myself for believing the hype out there, for thinking that it’s true and that we’re doomed, when every inch of the power to change lies within me.

I’ve spoken about this so many times before sometimes I wonder if I sound like a broken record. And in these last few weeks, it’s become easy to absorb that, to think that maybe I am the wailing woman in the marketplace who goes unheeded, and that it’s time to keep my mouth shut. To think that those who have been doing this for so long are the ones to listen to, the ones who hold history tightly and show us where we’ve gone wrong before and are so frozen in fear of hitting the same target again, it’s all they’re looking at – and we know what happens when you look at a target. You end up hitting precisely there.

The subconscious brain doesn’t work in “not”. It’s the old pink elephants game. If you don’t think of pink elephants, that’s precisely what arises. If we say we won’t allow fascism to reign, our target is fascism. If we say we want to protest our government, our government becomes our only focus of frustration, rather than looking at what’s going on inside our very own lives.

If we decide to focus on love, and how we can bring more of it into our daily lives. It happens.

Every plastic bag I decline from the grocery store. That’s one more marine mammal that might live to see her grandfishies. That’s one more corner of the ocean that’s a little cleaner, a little brighter.

Every morning I huff and puff to deliver compost to the food scrap pickup joint, that’s one more corner of Brooklyn with a few more flowers and one less inch of landfill oozing toxic waste at the earth.

Every homeless man I smile at and offer a God bless you, that’s one less insult he’ll hurl at the lady after him, one less curse raging at the state of the nation, one more calm night on the city streets.

Every friend I support and hold in her time of need, that’s one less vortex of pain swirling through the collective pain body of our world right now, and more light energy ready to be released and thrown in the direction of the bad guys.

Every family member I listen to and appreciate, even with differing political views, I open hearts and open minds, even if I cannot change theirs. 

Every song I sing, every word I speak, every hug I offer, every hand of help, has ripples and effects far beyond anything I'll ever understand.

I mean, we’re at war here. There’s black and white, dark and light, and we need more light, not more dark. So it doesn’t matter whose direction it’s in. If we bring in light, that increases the overall quantity. If we bring in dark – even if it’s towards the dark guys – we’re still adding to the black clouds. It’s science, really.

I can’t do it anymore. It’s taking me down. Feeling dark and heavy about everything, feel despondent when there’s so much work to be done – it gets to you.

In the seminal work of Chabad Chassidic philosophy, a unique blend of Jewish mysticism, old-school Jewish thought, and psychology and self-help, the author, Rabbi Schneur Zalman, brings an analogy to describe the pitfalls of depression and laziness. He describes two wrestlers, fighting in a ring. If one of them feels lazy, slow, heavy of heart, he will easily be beaten – even if he is stronger and more physically fit than the other.

This is how it is as we fight the evil in the world, and the darkness within our own selves. When we find ourselves in sadness, when our hearts are murky and closed up, when we build walls around us that seek to fortify, we sink to the bottom of the pit like a stone, rather than staying buoyant, afloat, and quickly and stealthily winning the fight against our own worst enemy. Joy, happiness, and openness of heart is the only way through, despite the ease of getting knocked down by fear, worry and sadness.

There is a certain benefit to the sadness, the author of the Tanya continues. There’s something to be said about taking stock of yourself and your life, and looking for ways to improve. There is absolutely an advantage to looking at the world as it is today and loudly, angrily, sadly, passionately declaring, NO! I want something better for myself and my future children.

But don’t get bogged down it, the Tanya tells us. Wake up. Stand up. Use that sadness and introspection to think about the life you do want to create, and move beyond it. Don’t stay sluggish. There is an advantage in the light that comes from darkness – the light that comes after we sit in darkness and know what we need to do to get out of it. There’s nothing more beautiful than a tiny flame that comes after the blackout. So it is with the light that we are creating now, with the fires we are stoking and the sparks we are generating even in this blackness.

On a Kabbalistic, mystical level, the method for understanding sadness is knowing that these painful moments come from a hidden world, an additional realm of consciousness that we are all not privy to, that creates processes and manifestations that we experience in our physical universe without complete comprehension of its full purpose outside of our own experience. Some of us find this easier to accept than others. Right now, we are surrounded by people for whom all that is happening now, is all that is.

But living with our heart open doesn’t allow us to fall to that. Living with an open heart and a connection to Spirit tell us that there is something beyond all of this. That the world can only be showcasing such darkness now because it is so close to the light. Because the shadows rise up when they know they are on the verge of destruction, and they fight for their very existence.

Because it takes the system crumbling down before it can rebuld itself again, because the fire intensifies but also purifies, and because it takes those within a state of conscious awareness to transform and transmute rather than going with the status squo.

Because we see the world now for what it is. A moment of ultimate pain but also truth. A world where we can all step up to create beauty in every moment, where we can find the power and the passion beneath the pain, where we can rally together and build through unity, where we can find our strength to fight in the wrestling match, because we are awake. We are not lazy. We are not tired. We are ready.

We’ve been born for this. We chose this. Now let’s do it.