When Pride Meets Our Despairing…

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Just by walking into a room, you can change the world.

I believe this, and have experienced it. We affect one another. Every day, we cause subtle or large alterations in the fabric of reality. Sometimes, though, we forget our ability to shift the energies around us by our actions, by our attitudes, by our words. We forget that some people have a sheer presence they’ve built up through years of practicing being fully who they are, and that standing next to them helps us be who we are, too. We forget that this is how change happens: in the conversation that changes the course of a person’s life work; in the gift that makes the difference between hunger and fullness, hope and despair; in just being, and giving another permission to be.

This week, these thoughts are present with me as I approach the meditation bench. This week, I keep working and practicing, and yet, this week has also been tinged with a sense of despair. Despair because some denizens of this gorgeous continent I live upon have seen fit to pump fists in seizures of American Triumphalism, they have seen fit to rejoice in killing. It isn’t that I cannot wrap my mind around people who have felt afraid, or hurt, or in deep sorrow, feeling some sense of relief that the person they feel was the source of this pain is gone. It is the jubilance that jars me so, and a sense that some of us wish to slide back into an attitude of “America on Top” when our empire has failed us, and failed the world. No, I’m not saying that everything we’ve done is wrong. Empires always fall because things change. Empires and upstarts both contribute good and ill to this planet, just like everyone and everything else. I do harm. You do harm. The finches and cats in my yard do harm. We hopefully try to reduce the harm we do.

This week’s coming and going of despair arose from wondering if humanity actually has the possibility to change, and wondering therefore if my work in the world is worth it, and whether or not it has any effect. In other words, I inflated my own importance in the cosmosphere, and forgot the role I do play. This is something I’ve taught over and over to others: we do what we can, where we can. This week was my time for the lesson.

In running the Iron Pentacle this morning, in tuning in to the energy flow between Sex, Pride, Self, Power, and Passion, I noticed that Pride felt like a bit of a cypher. In thinking that my work has to affect the world all at once, or even the people of one continent, and in entertaining even for one moment my escape fantasies – about going back to work full time at the soup kitchen, or selling shoes, or something that felt like it had a simpler, more tangible effect – I forgot that my place is here. Now. And that yes, I expend way too much jet fuel and need to work on cutting back. And yes, thank the Gods my students and clients come to me for my strengths and skills and put up with my weaknesses and the things I have yet to, and may never, learn. I do the same with my teachers. We do this for each other, and together we hold up and make the world.

My definition of pride is “Knowing your place in the world.” I forgot my place, off and on this week, or at least parts of my soul did. My God Soul is a constant, a beacon of centering and expansion. But these other parts struggled, in their despairing of humanity, and sometimes failed to remember that we each do the best we each can do, and try to affect the world immediately around us. This ripples out. Some of us act on a bigger stage, like the folks who work for Greenpeace or Medicines san Frontier. And yet, reality is, each person in those organizations have to do well or ill each day just like the rest of us. They too, have to settle for changing the world in that one conversation, that one gift, that one moment of being.

This musing is not about whether or not you or I approved of the killing of Osama bin Ladin – that is just the thing that spurred my mood shift and contemplation. This musing is about our ability to keep showing up to our lives, to our work, and to love. This musing is about discovering our place in the cosmos and doing our very best there. And therefore, for me, this musing is about the constant returning to the practicing of life. How else can we evolve?

Shunryu Suzuki said, “The most important point is to accept yourself and stand on your own two feet.” That, to me, is pride. May we practice today, whether that feels good or not, whether that feels like failure or success. May we take our place.

When pride meets despair, our souls return to wholeness. Therein lies the world we seek. Blessed be our Center, which is the Circumference of All.

7 Responses to “When Pride Meets Our Despairing…”

  1. Fey Rei Voni

    You constantly amaze me. You are absolutely one of my Favorite Feri Teachers. After Ron and Jim, but up there with Chris R.

    When Elfin Sara said you had moved on and was no longer teaching Feri – I wanted to go sock the people giving you hassle in the nose. We can’t afford to use you. Can’t you split a little and do some here and there?

    Or you have moved on?

    Always curious.
    Blessed Be Beltaine! and Spring! And Sun!

    It was a hard cold difficult winter. Another one bites the dust…. Is you Walpurjusnacht I know it’s not spelled right – Poem available to discreet sharing with attribution among the “lower ranks” of the Fey? It rocked Me as do you and yours.

    Hugs,
    Voni Fey Rei

    Reply
  2. sandrawillow

    Thank you Thorn for this perspective. I was and still am at some level dismayed by the response to this death.

    Reply
  3. Anne

    Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve been thinking a lot of this over the past couple of weeks, and spoke of it privately to my partner, but thank you for taking the time to post it here. I think there are a lot of us out there who find the response jarring but are (I hate to admit it) a touch reserved about speaking up because, hey, it’s OBL, and we all must hate him because if we’re not with the US then we’re against the US… right? I’m with the US, but I’ve been pretty surprised at some of the reactions, particularly from the president. I think he feels he needs to seize the political moment, and I want him to win, so I guess I won’t pass too much judgment considering the alternative, but it leaves a really bad aftertaste.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Nerys Lewis

    Hi. I’m writing this from my home in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. Thank you for this musing, which as usual, manages to put into words a number of the things I’ve been thinking, but in a way that makes them clearer. Just so you know, the day after our news was also dominated by stories of American’s celebrating this death, I was served at a store by the owner, a man who likes to gleefully engage customers with talk of current issues, usually subjects that are fear-based and sensationalized. I often listen and nod without taking part, but this time when greeted with his boisterous ‘so, did you sleep safer last night?’, I replied that actually I was kind of disturbed about the reactions I had seen, because surely the fact that there had been so many unnecessary deaths was really the issue, and that I was finding the delight in more death somewhat difficult to take. His grin faded away, and he responded reflectively that he had listened to a man talking about the death of his twin as a result of terrorist activity, and that this man had also talked about how he saw an answer only in the end to our belief that we have a right to kill others whenever it seems ‘right’ to us. We had a thoughtful conversation, and as I left, I heard him continuing with the same tone with the next customers in line. If I hadn’t been ‘showing up’ to the work I have been learning about since finding your books and podcasts, I’d never have found the will to speak my mind. You may not have been in that room in person, but you were there. I just wanted to thank you, and to tell you that. Thank you for your work and its wide circle of influence,
    Nerys

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  5. Thorn

    Sandra Willow and Anne, thanks for your responses. If we keep trying to practice living from center, we will affect those around us. The more we keep trying to live our sense of connection, and from our ethics, the less disturbance gets sown in the world, and the more we can each find our place.

    And Nerys – well done putting this into action!

    Reply
  6. MikeyUK

    One of my practices of late is to counter any ‘truism’, such as “It’s fantastic OBL’s dead!” or anything, is just to say, “Why do you think that?” and see what reaction I get. More often than not, people unconsciously pass on these memes without questioning them, as if to foster a sense of belonging and being right. I will often give my point of view, too, but it’s nice to throw people off centre sometimes.

    Reply

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