Monday, September 7, 2020

Beyond Ice Cream

Okay, I know that ice cream will not solve world conflict and personal rage. I’m all too aware that comfort food is just that, a momentary, fleeting comfort to help you stabilize and get back on your feet. And that’s important. We all need it and we all deserve it.


But like a bandaid on a little scratch with a broken bone underneath, we need a better long-term strategy. Just after writing the last post, I came across these words from Michael Meade from a podcast he recently broadcast titled “Hanging By a Thread.” These were the words I needed to help me and so I pass them on to you, with some of my comments in plain text related to my previous post:


“It makes sense if we feel ourselves to be on the edge of a nervous breakdownon the verge of depression or about to slip into some state of protective numbnessYet we can’t simply refuse to take in all the chaos, confusion and corruption because it is in the very air we breathe.In the same way, the corona virus is in the air and the smoke from various kinds of fires are now in the air we breathe. We are increasingly exposed to harsh realities, including the darker, shadowy sides of life.


He perfectly captures the depression I felt driving to Trader Joes, the edge of a nervous breakdown as I contemplated smashing the wine bottles and the protective numbness I fled to indulging in mint chip ice cream. I’ve always been willing to spend some time in the dark, shadowy sides of life, to allow myself to descend into grief and feel the full range of outrage over injustice while everyone else wanted me to smile and “have a nice day.” But now we’re all in it together—as Martha and the Vandellas sang it, “Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.” Meade continues.


For anything to change psychologically, we must first accept the trouble we find ourselves in. At the same time, we must undergo an expansion of self that gives us, both individually and collectively, a deeper sense of our capacity to change our lives while in the midst of adversity. 


Ah, there’s the challenge. Nietzche’s “One must become a sea to receive a polluted stream without becoming impure.” We need to push out all the edges of our previous self, exercise all the muscles of our previous powers, break through the glass ceilings of our own sense of impotence and helplessness. But it ain’t easy. 


The instinct for finding moments of unity and beauty in life runs deeper in the human soul than the energy for division and conflict. The deepest layers of the soul harbor the great human inheritance of imagination and our natural instincts for beauty and creation. However, to truly connect to our deep soul center, we must suffer some of the vulnerability, the emotional pain and the radical uncertainty of the moment. 




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