What Pulls, What Gives

My response to the ambient and rampant anxiety and lack of civility expressed in the public ecosystem that runs through my ears is to be drawn to silence and the comfort of my creative practices. Grateful someone reminded me if I don’t do enough to release what passes through my ears onto the page daily, my health could be affected.

I have been filled with a sense of despair and questioning everything of late.

  • Where do I fit?
  • How can I best serve?
  • As I near the half century mark of my time on Earth, have I done what I came here to do? Can I look back and be satisfied with what I have contributed?

I have been flooded with ways I don’t know where I fit. I don’t feel drawn to marriage or dating again if either resembles my past experiences, so I’m pretty clear my way forward is alone.  I don’t care for pro sports that absorb as much resources from my country as could solve all energy needs around the globe. That and a physical allergy to alcohol separates me from a wide group of human community.

My spiritual practice does not involve a church and I haven’t encountered a teacher or community yet that resonates deeply enough for me to join more than the occasional workshop. The world is my sangha, and I breathe in its pain and try to breathe out light. I try to remember there is no separation between where I and everyone else begins but there can be healthy boundaries that honor all.

I need to travel outside the county in which I live to be social in my creative practice because all fiber/yarn stores near me allow visiting or resident dogs. Same goes for potential housing situations I might afford in my area. I would be hospitalized within 48 hours for taking a class or trying to share a home where a dog resides.

Will I need to relocate far to find my place? A place where working 7 days a week affords me sound housing? Where I am now is due to kindness and yard work as part of my rent. Affirming the shifts in my area, I overheard someone who relocated from the middle of the US say that his nationwide employer needed to give him a 54% raise in order to allow him to break even with cost of living.

How can I best serve? I never became a professional musician, nurse, botanist or social worker, four ways I imagined service at various points on my path.

From where I sit now, I vacillate widely between feeling pulled toward a monastic-type existence forgoing many of what most think of as comforts for focus on prayer, meditation, solitude, quiet power, and/or jumping into work communicating with people around humanitarian and social justice concerns. I can’t forget the fact that I wouldn’t exist had my own grandparents not been shown kindness during time of war. Working as a volunteer English tutor for refugees in my 20s were some of the most engaging years I’ve spent, and these times call thirstily for kindness.

Have I done enough to be at peace? The only way I can convince myself I have is when I am reminded that maybe the small things add up. No fancy title required or thousands of lives touched. Like putting all one’s energy toward supporting and protecting a single child. Who knows where that will lead? Like living lightly as possible before doing so became imperative for the survival of all. Walking, public transit, no work commute most of 20 years. Consuming no red meat for 30 years, no seafood for 8, no dairy for 3. Changing my power company to obtain more than 50% of my electricity from renewable sources. Highly recommend Before The Flood. Our consumption patterns may be one of the great powers we have to serve others.

I am grateful I have been free of addiction to anything except perhaps melancholy, so that my child is not among the 1 in 4 children in the US growing up in homes with an addicted parent. My heart aches for all struggling in this way, and the 78 people each day dying in our current heroin epidemic.  These are some of the things that run through my ears and visit my dreams if I cannot let them go.

I may not understand my place in the ecosystem of life, but I am here, part of all that is. In 10 weeks I’ll take a silent 24-hour retreat in solitude to celebrate my half century existence and clarify my direction. A companion will be the constellation cards, a powerful tool of my sister’s creation that shows me we all have multiple strengths and multiple purposes in which to pour our energies. Whether I have one more day or 50 more years, I want to feel I have done enough.


About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
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