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A few weeks ago, I sat in while Kate interviewed urban strategist Majora Carter.  Three of us crowded into a tiny editing booth. There weren’t enough headphones to go around so I could only pick up Kate’s side of the conversation as the interview unfolded.

Even though I couldn’t hear her, I remember the moment when Majora Carter told Kate about being inspired by the quote: “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” Kate smiled and nodded her head and Shiraz, who was engineering the interview that day, also seemed visibly stirred by Carter’s words.

Carter goes on to share how she’s actively trying to be more joyful and appreciative in her every day life. During this time when so many of us are consumed by fear and uncertainty, she says it helps to be reminded that we’ve all got something to offer. Knowing this — and digesting it truly and deeply in our guts — can transform a perceived sense of scarcity into a trusty foundation of personal power.

I’ll admit that while my brain agrees with Majora Carter my nervous system does not. I’m seeing so many layoffs around me and a middle-grade anxiety seems to be wafting through the ventilation system. Recently I woke up from a fitful sleep and noticed myself tense and ill at ease. I wonder how I could flip the script on this creeping malaise. What are you doing to stay grounded and positive during these difficult days? Do you agree that a crisis is really an opportunity in disguise?


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Reflections

I feel scared too. Sometimes I have no idea what to do. I think crisis and uncomfortable feelings are opportunities. It's not that they're opportunities that are easy to see or act on. I think as a culture we have been avoiding things for a long time and this crisis makes it harder to do that. I personally think that's important and good. What I do to stay grounded is try to stay in this moment and remember "this is all I have right now." I also think about a comment Carl Jung made when someone asked him if he thought there was hope for us as a human race. He said he didn't know and went on to say that it depended on how conscious individuals are willing to be and how willing individuals are to look at their "shadow." What he thought we could do to save the world (and our selves) is to begin to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions - especially those about which we feel a great deal of shame or horror. I like remembering this because it means that I don't have to save the world, I have to be conscious and act out of integrity as much as I can and that will have a positive effect on the world. That's also something I can do.

The situation of today is allowing us to evaluate our lives and values within society to see what is really important. Within every crisis is a victory. The problem is that we are too close to the crisis to see or even think about the victory. A saying on our wall at home says that in change we can fight it, or allow it to take us to places we had not even thought of. The choice is ours. If we think that the sky is falling, we react in a way consumate with that feeling. If we believe that something good will come from this disaster, then we look for the opportunities that are present. We see what we expect.

What we need to be careful of is to not do anything. We need to use this time wisely. Not get caught up in the feeling of self pity of self loathing. If you have time on your hands. volunteer at a local school, hospital or food bank. Yes, even those who have what we say is nothing have a lot of what most of us crave, time. Mentor a child, get involved with SCORE, teach someone to read. In the past 50 years, the amount of available resources have never been greater than today. Let's use this opportunity while it is available. Go to your Church, Temple or other House of Worship and ask how you can help. Now is the time to share with others that which we have, be it time, money, food, experience or just an ear for listening. Don't do nothing, do something. Action does make people feel better.

I believe that everything is a learning experience but as to whether what we learn buoys us up or weighs us down perhaps is due more to our wiring. After 50 years, I'm still trying to figure out what's genetically inherited and what's learned behavior. I believe that the comments of Mark and Natasha are spot on, in that it helps to be altruistic and to remember that saving the world isn't entirely up to me! So to help me stay grounded, I remember first a short poem my mother taught me, "I thought I was abused because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet;" and second a quote from Helen Keller: "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do."

I have been taking some time to go through the program Reclaiming Virtue; it has been a blessing. The questions you out to your guests and their responses are thought-provoking and inspiring and calming. The calming is something I need in a way that's hard to articulate, for me. But hearing others talk about troubles and the discoveries they have made is inspiring; the stories give breath to my hopes and uncertainties. The last two years have been the most challenging/miserable of my life. Please God this time of trial is ending. Your guests have shown me the way to some forms of hope I had not had. There have been many levels of pain and attendant humiliation that several of the commentators have discussed. I can't tell you how grateful I am just to hear this articulated. I have indeed been growing more and more isolated, removed, desperately lonely . . . even among my family. My family - my wife and two teenage children - have been confused, hurt, angry, and . . . and unable to understand my depression. Part of the non-understanding has to do with the fact that I am a man; I am (maybe was) the "head of the household." I have shown vulnerability; I have shown genuine need. That freaks them out. They have responded by thinking I am weak, "needy," less-than-a-man. It's been incredibly difficult to try and talk with them about this aspect of the issue of pain; but so much of the humiliation and shame comes from the disrespecct and, at times, contempt they seem to feel. There are other dimensions of pain than the "gendered," aspects, of course. There is the the basic human need for consolation, TOUCHING! They have said that my desire to say "I love you" when they leave for work/.school, and my enjoyment of a kiss good-bye, are forced. ANd, in a way, I suppose they are right. But it has become something we are self-conscious about because they have complained, even criticized. Boy, "consequential actions," . . . what a brilliant phrase used by Sharon Salzberg! I feel that I may be going on too much. But please let me finish with an observation: there is an analogy to my individual, personal experience during my time of trial and exquisite pain. and it is American society's inability to think critically and compassionately through the roles we play, in our families, at work, in our communities, even in our faith communities. I think there are assumptions we carry with us that have to do with GIVING; we think about the sources of material assistance - from the Gov't, from people in our communities, in ourselves even. Where does our vulnerability fit? Is there any way to consider need, suffering, humiliation, or other forms of devastation as RESOURCES? Do these states, whether emotional or material, count as things we bring to the pain of others; or, are these "states" (for lack of a better term right now), just vacuums, black holes, liabilities?

I would like to thank :Natasha" especially. You unlocked a part of my heart that has been closed. Thank you so much. I wish you were here, I would give you a hug..

William