By Jeanne Treadway
When several robins whistled to each other this morning, right outside my window, those splendid cascading trills yanked my emotional bucket up a few notches from that frigid well of February moodiness. Yesterday, fumbling groceries from the car, I tripped over a hummock of damnable cheat grass that just heaved itself up outta winter’s belly. I forgot my gloves and it was okay. Instead of being pulled down around my ears every five minutes, my zebra-striped winter cap teetered unremembered on top of my head the whole day. Without noting the transition, I’ve shed layers from the coat, heavy sweater, sweater, big shirt, shirt, undershirt routine. Dang, girlfriend. Spring’s coming. Now, why ever would I have doubted that?
Without caring whether I love it or not, February does what it’s supposed to do: serve as an incubator for the next season. Gracefully and without my help, the Earth moves through her life cycles. One day it snows; the next it rains. That modest change in temperature signals the end of winter. Though I know I’ve got a minimum of three more weeks of winter and that it just might snow three feet three times each of the next three months, I modestly dance my heartfelt thanksgiving. I survived another February and here it is already March. It’s as if a scum washed itself from my eyes and everything is ever so much clearer today than yesterday.
A dainty green shimmering around the chamisa delicately contrasts the draped sheep bones and cottonwood roots. My apple and peach trees clamor for pruning because their sap already runs more freely than mine. Can my 60-year-old girly girl arms pull my equally old butt up into that mare’s nest of branches? Most likely, but I gotta pay attention this year, I mean, really pay attention. And, look, the carefully stacked thirteen-stone cairns from Samhain still stand sentry at the gate. What else made it through the freezing, thawing muscle flexing of winter?
Flax, curly sage and wild snapdragon swish and flash their tiny green skirts and the precious pine siskins and lesser goldfinches need more nyger seed. Didn’t I fill that big feeder this morning? And, oh my gosh, there’s a stellar jay. Haven’t seen one of those pointy-headed guys in months (since last spring, most probably).
Real and exaggerated Sun-warmth tease winter-hardened joints into slightly more pop-and-crack activity. Lungs huff and puff sweet, soil-scented air, in, out, in, out. Heart expands with this season’s poignant potential beauty. My cranky thoughts give way to planning for August tomatoes and, as if she read my mind, Loretta, my friend and gardening mentor, fills my arms with seeds, growing medium, trays, lights and heating mats. With a passel of intelligent advice, honest laughter and abiding faith in the healing salve of lemon balm, she encourages spring’s renewal, and mine. Life is so tender and sweet.
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves
I saw a new word announcing incoming stories on Yahoo today: trending. ‘Trending news,’ it read. That feels frivolous to me, like a topic we tweet or text about to enter the horse race of public opinion. Clearly, humankind loves its sociopolitical soap opera, even as we fume over its twist and turns, and these days there are more characters and opinions in our drama than we can sort out. Still, trending sounds to me like what Doug the Dog does — in Pixar’s lovely movie, Up — when he snaps his head around, mid-sentence and nose aquiver, yelping, “Squirrel!” Need examples? Anything about Sarah Palin, John Edwards or Jay Leno is a trend.
The news itself reflected a week of exhausting polarities. The headlines offered a snapshot of infighting, obstruction, proposed reforms whittled down to near-useless bits of busy work, and pundits blowing off steam in no uncertain terms. The government, they agree, is broken but that’s just a reflection of how stuck we are. If the government is broken, then we are, too. I’m not ready to throw in the towel, are you? It seems to me that things this month aren’t really worse than last, but that we have finally stumbled into a realistic assessment of our situation. Reality is raising its ugly head, or what serves as reality, anyhow. It remains to be seen if we will accept it, or instead, follow the trends.
Science used to be that bottom line beyond which we would no longer speculate, the reality that served as final arbiter to our world vision. Since science is both skeptical and conservative, one would think the Republicans would embrace it. They don’t. Scientific conclusions don’t work with their agenda, so they trend toward Biblical pronouncements about creationism, biology and global warming. They tweet and blog, they disparage and deride, they spin and jeer, in order to promote their alternative view. They gather supporters who don’t use logical sequence or scientific method to discover the specifics of their proposals; this is, they argue, a matter of faith. In 2010, matters of faith apparently have as much weight as scientific discovery. I’m stunned and appalled, of course.
Polls have shown that the majority in this nation favor creationism over evolution, a uniquely American belief with political ramifications for a world awaiting our participation in climate change leadership. Science, as hard-nosed as it can be, remains open to ongoing revelation in its push for the provable, while religion, or at least the version leading the conversation today, does not. Religion trends toward absolutism, which leaves no wiggle room for evolutionary change, which, of course, it’s against.
Consider the irony of finding ourselves in an evolutionary curve, unable to agree on evolution. Science pitted against religion is not a debate, it’s a war. Science and spirituality, however, have discovered a tentative partnership. Perhaps it’s the ability to explore revelation, push the boundaries of the known, that makes them useful to one another. Discoveries in quantum physics are revealing to the spiritual community, who have spent several decades questing for self-actualization, learning to establish their own spheres of influence and harness their dreams and desires. For instance, we now know that emotional response is part of our responsibility for creating our own lives, a factor we ignored in the past. Focus and intent seem to mean more than we knew.
Robert Lanza, MD, disputes the Big Bang in his new book, Biocentrism, where he explores the theory that particles perform in direct response to their observer, and therefore something must observe them in order for them to exist. To those of us who don’t have a problem reconciling a creation story to our own larger philosophy, this may seem small potatoes, but to many it is not. In a recent article, Lanza quotes Emerson, who seemed to bridge the mystical and the scientific when he said, “Let man then learn the revelation of all nature and all thought to his heart; this, namely, that the Highest dwells with him, that the sources of nature are in his own mind.”
Neither pure science nor dogmatic religion will like Lanza’s theory, but the spiritual community may find it intriguing. Are Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, within us? Does science offer us a new, yet unformed mythology, here? This has the potential to be a reasonable step toward exploring some version of ‘intelligent design’, but first we’d have to let go of our old, dearly held mythologies to let in new information. And that’s the yowling cat in the bag. We need to understand that such a proposition is change with a capital C, an example of the actual heavy lifting we face at this moment. More than we realize, our mythology about who we are and what we’re about has brought us to this partisan wrestling match, grappling with who we will become. Of all the things shaking and rattling in 2010, our sense of self seems to be at the epicenter.
Although it seems difficult to conceive, mythologies come and go. The most obvious example is the centuries of blood and conquest required to integrate Christianity into Paganism as our supreme mythology. Surely a Shift of Ages would require such a social upheaval now as well, resulting in many 20th century myths dissolving, slowly and painfully, as have ours in these last few decades. The mythology of American superpower, for instance, seems all but a dead topic now that our economy is unstable. It’s apparent that America is no longer Number One, no matter who tries to spin it, nor is it a white, Christian nation. The ‘might makes right’ mythology that threatened to take us all to the brink in the last administration won’t be missed, but it brings us to an existential question: if might doesn’t make right, what does? These are mythologies in decline, awaiting a new iteration and not trending in the least. What we hear of them now feels old to us, archaic and outmoded. Maybe what’s broken isn’t government but our vision of ourselves.
Spiritual teacher Caroline Myss calls these shifts of archetypes that hold our psychosocial fabric together “navigational indicators.” According to Myss, “A myth that gets dismantled has to be replaced by its next version, a more evolved story that can contain the magic and mysteries of the celestial world for us, the earth dwellers.”
And she lays out the mighty challenge of shifting them when she tells us, “It’s really incomprehensible to the ‘mind’ in us to realize that we are essentially ‘mythic’ creatures. There is not a word inclusive enough to communicate how controlled we are by our mythologies. We cannot function separated from our myths. Indeed, we literally are our myths and even to go near that truth can be an intimidating, alarming, or even, as wars so often prove, destructive proposition.”
If it’s new mythology we’re birthing now, a new template and design to overlay the old and take us into our future and purpose, then let’s use the scientific tools at hand. In physics, the particle is the unit of energy that is the building block of the Universe. The particle is infinitesimal but when aligned with like properties, it creates a wave of influence and outcome. The more particles collected together, the larger the wave. To illustrate, the 8.8 earthquake in Chile was a release of collective energy, and so was the ensuing tsunami.
Now, think of the particle as energy gathering around each of us and the dreams that we hold close to heart. We have a powerhouse of energy to direct, once we define it. The question is, have we mastered enough of our own internal mysteries and conundrums to acknowledge the mythical shifts we’re moving toward? Are we ready for a new design, hopefully an intelligent one? If we are, we must ignore the trending news that diverts us, and stop attending to the voices shouting “Squirrel!” every few minutes. Einstein told us that to get out of any situation, we couldn’t use the same thought process we used to create it. Each of us is required to help birth this new thing by keeping focus, imagination, intuition and loving intent foremost in our thoughts and dreams.
I listened to Obama stump for health care this week, telling us that standing by while people suffer and die because they can’t afford help is not what America is, nor what he will allow. He asserts, with some passion, that passing this legislation isn’t a political challenge, it’s a moral one. He wants the nation to step up to the change he’s offering, but we need to acknowledge that it’s a mythological clash he’s up against. Conservatives tell us they’re not responsible for their neighbors’ well-being, while the growing Tea Party movement tells us they don’t want government in their lives or their wallets. Many Democrats tippy-toe up to this challenge with all the confidence of a well-beaten pound puppy. The outcome is still uncertain, and it falls to ‘We, the People’ to decide who we are in this crisis, and what we’re going to become. Hovering over all are our Better Angels, asking us to think new thoughts and recognize the higher good that’s possible. We’re breaking a deadlock for the future. The navigational indicators of earlier generations will eventually morph in the hands of the Millennials, the young folks born mid-80s and after, who wait in the wings with open minds and expectations of helpful, committed government. Think of them when you hear big talk about what we’re leaving our kids and grandkids. Let’s leave them a way forward we can take some pride in.
In this moment of reinventing ourselves, it seems to me that if our hearts aren’t in this process, then what we produce will be heartless, emblematic of all we hope to leave behind. The polarity game will become less of a challenge if we refuse to play it. In this critical moment of becoming, we can put aside the distracting squirrels of fear and conflict in favor of holding firm to our vision and dream. We can seize this opportunity to deny hatred and division their hold by behaving with compassion and calm. We can tell the truth without allowing it to become a judgment, without yielding to those who survive on the energy they steal from others. We have to shift ourselves in order to usher in the new, so let’s create not simply a new day, but a new way forward. Let’s shift our weight toward the trending possibility of another Big Bang: let’s love ourselves, and our world, brand new again.