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Finding stillness

Looking for calm.
Seeking ease.

We are often unprepared for life’s challenges and at times our reaction to certain individuals, instances, or events can leave us feeling ugly. Such feelings of ugliness can be pretty powerful, sometimes strong enough to cause us to lose sight of, and disconnect from, the innocence and beauty of our true essence. Slowing down and easing gradually into stillness while concentrating on the energy that fills our heart, the same energy that connects us to each other, will bring us back to the everlasting beauty of ourselves.

~Mary Dunlop

A view from the dock on a still evening close to sunset.
A view from the dock on a still evening close to sunset.

As regular visitors know, I have been in a state of shock and grief from the sudden death of a dear friend.  It is my habit, every day since I bought the deck, to pull a card from the Osho Zen Tarot.  It’s a meditative activity, and it usually gives me something to ponder in my day and/or in my life.  On Tuesday, election day, the card I pulled was Thunderbolt.  The card represents sudden, shocking change.  Those of you familiar with traditional Tarot know it as The Tower.  The tower pictured in the card has been struck by lightning and blown apart.  I wasn’t interested in thunderbolts so I pulled another card.  I felt as if there had been enough thunderbolts in life recently, and it felt safer to ponder something else.  (You can, if you wish, see the card and get the full description of it here.)

On election night here in the U.S., M and I decided to watch a movie because neither of us were in the mood to absorb more anxiety and angst over politics.  I don’t even remember what we watched.  We voted during the early voting phase here in Maryland sometime last week.  I can’t speak for M, but for me, I left it behind at that point.  I had other, more heart-touching life events to work with.

Smooth as silk, but what you can't see is that the water isn't calm. The tide is coming in.
Smooth as silk, but what you can’t see is that the water isn’t calm. The tide is coming in and the current underneath is fast filling up the creek and raising the water level.

When I woke up yesterday morning, the day after the election, I was tired.  It is harvest season here and the combines (harvesters) have been running day and night. I can hear one running now as I type.  I couldn’t get to sleep on Tuesday night, in part because of the combines, but mostly because of anxiety about the election.  When I finally rolled out bed and checked the news for the results, my first reaction was a physical one.  It was as if someone had kicked me in the gut and knocked the wind out of me.  I felt so ill for a while that I thought for sure I’d never again be able to hold down food or drink.  I didn’t puke, but I thought I might.  I can’t recall ever reacting this way to an election, and the feeling lasted a good part of the day.

I moved through a wide range of emotions yesterday, mostly of what some consider the negative variety.  Anger.  Disgust.  Frustration.  Sadness.  Fear, lots of fear.  I spent time reading stories of doom and gloom and how the world was going to end.

Light shining through the darkness of the boathouse.
Light shining through the darkness of a boathouse.

With a little time, some distance, and some hindsight perspective, I find myself wondering:  Is that how all the folks who hated Obama felt when he was elected?  There is insight in that thought.  An opening.  A small bit of compassion.  A chance to know how someone on the other side felt.  It doesn’t matter if I agree with them.  Pain is pain, disappointment is disappointment, fear is fear.

Close on the heels of that thought was the realization that I never once sat down and had a reasonable discussion with someone who supported the now-winning candidate.  (You’ll excuse me, please, if I don’t name too many names.  It draws out the trolls, and I prefer they stay put under the bridge for now.)  I had small debates with family members, but backed out of those quickly because we were not two people discussing how we feel and what is important to us in our lives, but we were two people debating talking points put out by conservative news organizations.  I suppose liberals and progressives put out talking points too, but I pay so little attention that I don’t know.  (Or maybe I absorb them by osmosis and don’t realize it?)

Sunlight on the phragmites (grasses).
Sunlight on the phragmites (grasses).

It probably surprises no one that when it comes to the political spectrum, I lean towards the left.  It might surprise you to know that I have, on occasion, voted for third party candidates and I have even (gasp!) voted for a Republican or two because I preferred their policies on certain issues over that of the Democrats.

Long shadows on the boardwalk.
Long shadows on the boardwalk.

Waking up this morning, I felt as if I truly had woken up.  I have been guilty of complacency.  Since I’m being brutally honest, I have been guilty of really not caring.  Politics and politicians, especially with so much corporate involvement, began to seem all-the-same to me.  The ideas and ideals from my youth were, I thought, long gone and I had grown apathetic.  When I talked politics with my kids, I’d jokingly tell them that the country and the government are their problem now.

That isn’t true, though, is it?  It’s not entirely their problem or my problem or even your problem.  It belongs to all of us, collectively.  This country is a mess and has been for a while.  For those of us not touched by it too much, it was easy to grow complacent.  Oh, I made noises about caring, and there are issues that have continued to be important to me.  The environment, a woman’s right to decide what to do with her own body, civil rights (equality), and probably some others I’m forgetting at the moment.  I didn’t stop voting, but I rarely voted with passion.

november-2016c-021a

I don’t have any answers to anything.  Just a lot of questions, and most of those questions are being directed at myself right now.  I stopped reading the doom and gloom reports, and started reading those that are making positive suggestions on where to go from here and what we can do now (I started here and here).  I’ve begun to question my own values and what is important to me.  I’ve begun to question our two party system, and will continue to nurture a new (for me) inkling of hope that someday a third party will rise that will be made up of people from all sides, people who have decided it is time to come together and find ways to cooperate in order to make life good enough for all of us, or at least for as many as possible.

november-2016c-025a

Tomorrow and Sunday M and I will be attending the visitation and memorial services for our friend.  We will be saying goodbye and we will have the opportunity to share our grief, our love, and our memories with friends and family, many of us with differing opinions regarding politics, life, the universe, and everything, but all of us having commonalities as well.  Love, to name one.

After that, I don’t know.  I’m going to grieve for a while, I suspect.  Not just the death of a friend, but the death of my complacency.  You wouldn’t think one would need to grieve that sort of thing, but I think it’s necessary.  What I thought was the unthinkable became a reality, and I’d venture to guess that many of us needed to be shaken from our towers.

november-2016c-022a

There are no plans to change my blog into some kind of political platform.  I think my leanings and views come through without hitting anyone over the head with them.  What I will be doing is involving myself more in those places where I think it is important and where I can be of help.  Right now I need some time to let things soak in and to heal.

Thank you for stopping by today, and thank you for reading.  I’ll be back next week.  Wishing you a wonderful and wonder-filled weekend, if that’s possible for you right now.  And if not, wishing you healing, comfort, and ease of being.

Be good, be kind, be healing, be loving.  Just Be.

The view from the bench.
The view from the bench.

A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 46) This gorgeous fall day filled with sunshine and cold breezes.  47) Weeks of meditation helping me find a small inner island of stillness where I can be at peace and curiously approach all the feelings that are swirling around.  48) Family and friends.  49) Love.  50) Waking up.

The end of a day.
The end of a day.
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Author:

Robin is a photographer, artist, writer, wife, sometime poet, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, friend, and occasional traveler currently living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She finished a 365 commitment to get outside every day in 2011, and has turned it into a lifelong commitment taking one or more walks each day. Robin will continue to share her walks through her words and images on Breezes at Dawn. Older posts can be found at Life in the Bogs, her previous blog. Robin and her husband are in the midst of renovating the house and property they refer to as the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, 35 acres that include marsh, a dock on a tidal creek, meadows, and woodlands. Every day brings new discoveries.

28 thoughts on “Finding stillness

  1. Thank you, Robin. This is also the first time I’ve had such a physical reaction to an election, as well. (Although I was elated 8 years ago, and I thought it was the sign of new beginnings.) I think many of us have been awakened.

    I’m sorry again for the loss of your friend–and then the additional shock.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hey Robin,
    So sorry about the loss of your friend. That AND the election at the same time. Wow. Thanks for what you said. I am grieving too, trying to surrender and heal. It’s hard. I want to be able to walk my own talk, and this is such a huge challenge. But I am feeling myself sifting through it and finding calm once again. Just not there quite yet. I hope your time at the memorial is sweet, though sad. Talking with others about memories, is always healing for me during a loss.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Mary. 🙂 The memorials were indeed healing, a chance to celebrate a remarkable man and to be with others who are missing him, too. There were lots of great stories and memories shared. Lots of love, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am going through all those emotions too, having a much more visceral reaction to this election than any other I can recall. Eight years ago, I too was elated, and I believe if our congress was more concerned with the people and less concerned with their party, it could have been an outstanding eight years. I lean Democratic, but am more concerned with having elected officials who are reasonable, thoughtful, honest, intelligent, fair, and, as a bonus, have some dignity, than I am with party. The man who has been elected has presented himself as none of those during this campaign. I have hope, but it is slim. Perhaps this is what’s needed to get our system back on track. Using the term very loosely and with respect, perhaps this is our holocaust and we will come out of it for the better. I can hope.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think that’s the most sensible approach, Carol, and mine is similar. The person is more important to me than the party, and where they stand on certain issues. I hope we come out of it for the better, too, but still feel anxious about it all.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It has truly been a difficult time for many….but you and your friends and family had the sudden death of someone dear to handle as well. I believe that is the most important thing to work through right now. All the rest will still be there, unfortunately, when you’re ready.

    I too had a physical reaction to learning the election result. I too think I was complacent, lulled into false hope by the talking heads on television that said it was nearly impossible for him to win. They were wrong. They should refund us something. But we shouldn’t have been taken in either, and I’m sure going forward we won’t be. We should have known this election didn’t fit the models of anything done prior.

    Lesson learned. Now we shall see what he can do. And if it is good or bad. And we will be loud if it is bad. Guaranteed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dawn. 🙂 It is a hard lesson to swallow and learn, and I hope something good eventually comes of it all. We’ll have to be visible and loud, I think, for that to happen.

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  5. You echo many of my thoughts, Robin. I think we both self-examine closely our feelings and what steps bring us to any given place. I’ve been trying to embrace the bigger picture and trust in the way of things. This country is deeply divided and we need to do what we can to heal that.
    I’m glad you are taking time to nurture yourself, blessings to both you and M.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Eliza. 🙂 Yes, much healing is going to be necessary before we can come together in this country. I’m not even sure it can be done, but I hope it can.

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  6. From my position on the other side of the world, I had hoped and prayed that the people of the USA would vote for a dignified, politically experienced person to lead the country rather than the alternative candidate and felt a similar shock as you have described when hearing this hadn’t happened. You may have heard it said that when the USA sneezes, Australia catches a cold – I feel sure that the result of this election will have an impact on Australia and most countries around the world.

    I’m so sorry to hear that you recently lost a dear friend, Robin, and pray that your peace of mind will return before too long. Sending my love to both yourself and M. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Joanne. 🙂 It is interesting to find out how those in other parts of the world feel about this election. It seems that the U.S. and the U.K. have gone completely nuts. I hope it doesn’t impact the world, but that is probably not a realistic hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I feel bad, too. Wednesday was pretty depressing. And with that anxiety in the stomach thing going on. But I have decided to take a long view. We survived Warren Harding, the civil war, Richard Nixon, and assorted other things–the Great Depression among them. We can survive this guy. And there are elections in two years…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Those mid-term elections carry the possibility of hope, Lisa. I’ve been trying to take a long view as well, but there’s something about this guy that makes me want to stay on-guard, so to speak. I heard someone say yesterday that during WWII things went on slowly and quietly for a while before good people noticed what was happening and by the time they did, it was too late. We humans have a terrible habit of repeating certain cycles. A friend calls them “corrections” in which we find a way to be less crowded. Sometimes nature makes the corrections for us. Sometimes we do it ourselves. Ah well, I’m going to try to stay away from the doom and gloom for a little while. A steady diet of that doesn’t do anyone any good. I do hope we can come up with good people to elect in two years. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Robin this is written so beautifully- so truthfully. I also had a visceral reaction when I awoke to the news. I have never followed politics before, was aware of the goings on but as you said it never really touched my life directly. The fact that people could actually vote for a man with SO many faults and failings as a person troubles me to no end. Who are these people and where is their moral compass? Changing the subject- I feel for you so with the loss of your friend- I know for myself grief stays with me for a long time, it lessens but the loss of a friend runs deep. Thank you for sharing such stunning images- beauty amidst a world of chaos right now ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re welcome, and thank you, Lisa. 🙂 I wondered how people could vote for him, too. All I can think of is that they are so desperate for some kind of change that he seemed the better candidate. The problem, of course, is that we can’t turn back the clock (which is, I think what some wish to do).

      I tend to feel grief for a long while, too. I keep hearing G’s voice from when he called a few days before he died, calling out on our answering machine. Wish we’d kept that message, although I suppose it might be better that we didn’t.

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  9. Robin, thank you for your thoughtful comments and your beautiful photos. Knowing that there are places to go where we can express our grief, whether personal or political, is an enormous comfort. Please accept my condolences for the loss of your friend.

    Liked by 2 people

Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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