Last Friday morning my Mother emailed me and said, “I heard that Hawaii is gearing up for a nuclear attack. Do you know anything about this?”
An hour later I read on my newsfeed that a rogue planet called Nibiru is on a collision course with the earth and everything will go to hell – but that was supposed to happen yesterday and we’re still here, so I don’t know whether to take it seriously.
Meanwhile, last week, rescue workers in Mexico held up signs that read “Silencio,” so they could hear the cries of those trapped in the rubble. Puerto Rico may be without power for six months. Their government has encouraged 70,000 people to evacuate because of a dam that broke, but because there is no cell reception, they can’t get the word out. The term Rocket Man has a new meaning, and we can now add the word Dotard to our lexicon. And just now I got some news blip on my phone that the North Korean envoy has called Trump’s rhetoric a declaration of war, and has threatened to shoot down U.S. military aircraft. But just as I clicked to read more, I see another news piece about why it’s not good to charge your iphone at night, and I almost read that first.
It’s hard to know what to pay attention to these days. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, North Korea, Iran, Trump, and what it means to take a knee. It’s hard to keep your heart centered, to pay attention to what matters and find ways to be helpful.
And all of this on top of a life that was already disorienting and brimming with overwhelm. I write with 70 people a week and I hear it – everyone’s attempt to get their priorities straight; to be more loving to the people around them, to not lose it on the highway with other drivers, to leave their Smart Phones behind, to stop checking email and Instagram like they were life lines, to not over load their lives with so many commitments, to risk saying “no,” to make peace with their bodies, their relationships, aging, their work and all the ways that things have turned out so far.
Of course I’m talking about myself, I always am.
To be honest, I don’t remember being this lonely in my whole life. Not lonely for people or things to do – it’s not that kind of lonely. It’s something else.
I’m remembering a book I read 30 years ago about how the Industrial Age, with its modern appliances like refrigerators and stoves affected people, how it lured them from the country to the city. Canned food, water that came into the house, washing machines, a telephone, an indoor toilet. All these modern conveniences meant that people didn’t have to spend time in the fields to make sure there was dinner, didn’t have to milk a cow to find something to drink, didn’t have to spend precious hours washing clothes by hand, or walk a mile to talk to a friend. All these amazing discoveries were meant to give people more time for things that mattered. But the book also said that the Industrial Age gave rise to the psychiatric movement. People started complaining that they didn’t feel like themselves anymore. They felt separated from their own lives, as if somehow using their hands and spending time in relationship with the things that they actually needed gave their lives meaning. They reported feeling lost.
I’ve never forgotten that book – though I’m not remembering the title. But it’s all coming back to me now as Mother Nature rages and the planet gets hotter and hotter, and Donald Trump paces the White House like the Mad King that he is. My news feed just told me that we’re inching closer to a nuclear war with North Korea, and I’m thinking that if I do one good thing today it’s to get back into my garden, to put my hands in the dirt for the first time in a year. It’s such a small thing, but right now it feels like everything, and maybe a way back to something that matters.
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I love this piece Laurie. Your writing brings me home, a place I have longed to visit!
Thank you, Laurie – you give me hope, and this is what counts. Each in our own small way, small things, small actions, I want to say “small love”, whatever that means – hope, love . . . all of us together . . . <3
Faster and more efficient is not all ways better. It leaves out the hopeful planning, the anticipatory prepping, the activity itself and the deep satisfaction of seeing our efforts create something that didn’t exist before. Whether it’s a garden, a jar of homemade pickles or jam, a skirt sewn up with the perfect fabric or a thoughtful blog post, no amount of automation can equal the human sparkle of intention. Great post Laurie, thanks for reminding me that we are all in this current state if craziness together.
Beautiful, thank you.
Love you, Lolo. Beautiful.
Thank you for putting to words the strange, hovering anxiety that so many of us are experiencing…alone and not alone.
I am so moved! Thank you.
When I read your post, I was reminded of this short video I saw recently on Character… an inspiring perspective on the tumultuous time we live in!
We may feel lonely, but we are not alone. Bless you.
You summed up perfectly what we are all feeling. I now understand even more clearly why I’ve been weeping in the car, not sleeping well. But also why I dropped everything to go east and reconnect with childhood friends two weeks ago, why I try to go into the back yard and touch the plants every morning, why why I’ve been sending love bomb emails to people I see every week. Yes, you got it. Xoxo
Laurie, you captured so well what many of us are experiencing. I keep trying to thin the river of news about the antics of the emperor. Sometimes it seems as if the world is in heart break. Reaching out a hand, to friend, stranger, a plant in the garden, the earth, is all we can do. Thank you.
Exactly. You nailed it. But for me it’s butternut squash soup, and chili, and homemade cookies for the boy’s care package. Then the garden.
You summed up how I feel so exactly. Thank you.
Amiga, have always loved your talent for hitting to the core of emotions. Wish we lived closer and I could participate in your in person workshops. I am a bit closer, now in San Diego. Moved from Mexico last year. I am happy to watch your travels and how you are expanding your teaching and writing.
Oh, you so nailed it, Laurie. What you said… all of it. Thank you. Gratitude for you!! <3 <3
So true. I think I read that book….or one like it. It was called The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood.
Teary reading this…especially about the dirt.
Brilliant as all ways. Thank you …
I’ve been thinking about that feeling of separation from my own life a lot over the years. Last night I was thinking about how Netflix (and Amazon Prime and Hulu and HBO go and Facebook and Instagram and and and) have made it all the easier to stay in that state of disconnect. I’ve longed for some kind of small daily practice that can bring me back to connection (I am not good at daily practice, routines and I have a complicated relationship). And just as I was reading this post I realized I want a practice in daily tenderness. To find a way back to that ache in the base of my throat. Tears springing at the corners of my eyes. The sting of the spectrum of all that love is. I want to teach myself, day by day, how to feel. I get that on Fridays when I write with you and Jill an Chloe and the other wonderful women, and I know I *could* write every day (see me and routines above). But now at least I have a word for it. Thank you for helping me step one step closer. As always. Love you!
Thank you Laurie for this touching insight into the state of our world.
I so loved this piece Laurie. You have such an ability to tap into our collective consciousness. Beautiful.
Beautiful and poignant. Thank you.
I think the thing we’re searching for is connection with ourselves. How can we have that when we don’t have or take the time? When we prioritize everything and everyone else as being more important or more pressing than time with one’s self. I cannot think of anything more pressing actually. It is within this time that we find acceptance, compassion, connection. And if we find that with ourselves, then we can extend it to others. If you remember that title, I’d love to read the book. Thank you, Laurie.
As always, beautifully written. Miss you as a neighbor.
Love you and your fierce tender honesty
Summer was like your house: you know
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.
Another beautiful essay by a wrangler of honest introspection. Thank you Laurie. xo
THIS. All of this.