Thoughts arising as we pass through a Bushfire Emergency on the South Coast of NSW, January 2020:
I see around me people who are overwhelmed and overwrought, dissipating their energy on things that are beyond their control, blaming others, generating anger which they spray on others, catastrophising and immobilising themselves and at times those around them. I see others who do what they can with what they’ve got, reach out and be part of a community, collaborating and contributing. I find myself wanting to reach out to those who are in pain and in a state of fear or anxiety and let them be part of this other community. I ask myself, what can I do to calm the overwrought, soothe the troubled and comfort the frightened.
I think I might try the following:
With kindness and kind words, establish what the facts are, choose not to pass on or amplify alarmist posts, false posts, incomplete information. Let such stuff ‘stop with me’. Passing things on amplifies them. I will pass on the good news, the good advice, the reassurance of others.
Celebrate achievement, no matter how small. Be less judgemental. Be not judgemental at all. Be willing to see the many sides to every story, the many dimensions of every situation. I can say “Let us learn to collaborate with the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Let us discover the unfoldingness of things. Let us experience the connections we have with the community in which we find ourselves”. Being connected. Being compassionate. Being collaborative. Being kind, to myself and to others.
Focus on what is. The ‘is-ness’ of things is what we have. It is solid ground in an otherwise shifting of sands, which, if we jump up and down in it, becomes quicksand. Be grounded on what is. Be grounded in the present moment. Cultivate the notion that together we will get through the present situation, no matter how awful.
Focus of what is, not on what is not. Highlighting defects, deficiencies, gaps, and negatives just heightens the fears and anxieties, especially of those who grasp on to such things as confirmation of how bad things are. Blaming others, bad mouthing them seems to come from that place of fear and anger and make matters more fraught. I have found that providing balance with stories of success, of help given, of support provided, can enable me to see the bigger picture, one in which there is good and bad, positive and negative, hope and fear. When others have nothing to say but how awful it was, or is, I will listen. I will let them know that I understand the impact that had on them, reassure them, bring them into the present, remind them of what is happening, what is being achieved, of the miracles being wrought all around us. I will collect stories of these miracles, so that I am ready to share them when I encounter others whose fears and anxieties immobilise them and prevent them from seeing what is there, what is happening, what is helping, who is there to support and how they are supporting. I will acknowledge what is, whether it be fear, pain, support given, support received, sorrow or joy. I will be interested in where others are and how they are travelling, how they are negotiating the uncertainties, the ups and downs of their respective journeys. I will do my best to be there for the other.
I can make a pot of tea, a brew of coffee. Make muffins. Cook a meal. Include love as an ingredient. Share such things.
Pause, go for a walk, be still in a forest. Hug a tree. Plant a tree. Keep alive a tree previously planted. Pause, be still as I listen to a favourite piece of music, listening with my whole self and my full attention, being there within the music. Let tears flow if that is what is prompted. Let the soul resonate, if that is what ensues.
Find comfort in the uncertainty of things. Avoid seeking certainty in this uncertain journey. Avoid encouraging others to do so, even inadvertently. Life does unfold in uncertain and mostly beautiful ways. Seek and find the beauty, the harmony, of things.
Find the music within. Seek stillness, allow myself to resonate with it.
Find peace and equanimity, sharing these precious things by being peaceful and equanimous.