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August 28, 2014 / Karen R Adams

thinking on the unthinkable

me 2004 2I don’t usually write about ‘world events’. The things that I hear or read in the media distress me – a lot, and I know from past experience that they can suck me down until being angry and bitter becomes my default setting. That way of being serves no one, least of all me. I can do little to influence global tragedies and I hate feeling powerless, hate feeling like who I am and what I do means less than nothing. Or worse, that who I am and what I do contrast so enormously with the experiences of others that I have a moral imperative to take to the streets to make things right. I spent much of my life protesting this and fighting against that and raging against the other until I just couldn’t do it any more. I made myself sick.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’m a great believer in finding ways, in any situation, of choosing to feel more positive, happier, more expansive. I love that I’m learning to do that, and that living it means I can help others find some relief, some ease in themselves when they are struggling.

Recent events in Ferguson and in the Middle East have reminded me that I am lucky to be who I am, to live where I do, to be able to do what I love unhindered. I have great privilege, and I am grateful (so, so grateful) for that, and yet I also feel torn in my heart because others are suffering simply because of where they live or the color of their skin or the body that houses their souls. I do not have answers, I don’t know how to make it right, I (again) feel powerless and constrained. I grieve.

I find some comfort in knowing that this is the way it is supposed to be for me. Within great joy is the seed of pain and sorrow, within great grief and suffering is the seed of joy. Like Yin and Yang, there is constant movement, times when the joy grows and declines, times when the sorrow does the same. The discomfort of the now always holds the potential to change to the comfort of the now.

Understand that while I do not live in Iraq or Palestine or Missouri, I have experienced pain and trauma. I have my chops. I know what terror and agony feel like. I know the despair of fearing that life will always be suffering. Within privilege is the seed of disenfranchisement, within despair is the seed of power. The potential, if not the imperative, is movement, however (apparently) small. All else is death, and I’m not ready for that yet.

And while I yearn to smooth the suffering of many, I have to learn to be content with helping those immediately around me ease their sorrows.

As I sit at my desk in my wonderful home, overlooking my small town that looks glorious on this sunny late summer day, I am painfully aware of the contrast. There is no ‘resolution’ to the place I am right now. There is only acknowledgement that it serves no one if my home is also rubble. I’m choosing not to be on the extreme of a polarity: have or have not, safe or wildly unsafe. I’m choosing instead to know that my life is fluid, ever-moving somewhere on the spectrum between extremes, and that I am privileged to have all this. I can welcome the beauty of the day with sorrow and gratitude, and know it is enough.

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