Even though it’s February, I had the incredible joy of cycling to work this week.
Along with the sheer lack of snow and ice along the path, the biggest motivator for me to get my bike out of the garage this morning, was this amazing morning light.
It was incredible. It was as if I was looking through the shadowy tunnel of a dim, distant winter and seeing soft yellow-orange rays of sun peeking through. For this reason, it’s (almost) okay that we are likely in for a large dump of snow in a few days. I will take this one moment of gratitude for the light.
Brighter mornings, sunnier days and the sounds of birds chirping can certainly add some buoyancy to days that can so easily be filled with concern or struggle.
But are these very small, very welcome harbingers of spring enough to uplift when the dim tunnel also reveals much darker, less-welcomed events and situations?
• Serious illness of someone close to us
• Harmful choices we make to stay stuck in destructive patterns
• Negative choices others make near us
• Highway fatalities
• School shootings
• Courageous demonstrators against injustice seemingly getting nowhere with policy changes
• Online trolls baiting readers with inflammatory over-generalizations and irrational comments
• Others taking the bait and arguing with said trolls, circular arguments going nowhere
• Wanting to respond but reacting instead
Where is the light that uplifts us when dark, heavy matters are constantly right in front of our faces, news-feeds and inboxes?
Do we bury our head in the sand, self-medicate to numb the overwhelm or raise our voices in protest?
In a mindfulness group session recently, thoughtful, engaged participants shared their ideas for staying resilient in turbulent times. Here are some of those ideas:
1. Consume media mindfully as opposed to compulsively
2. Read thoughtful writers and not just sensationalist media sources
3. Look for the “helpers” – Fred Rogers’ (aka Mr. Rogers) mother taught him to see those who were doing good things during troubled times.
4. Be a helper. Volunteer in your community. Be part of your community.
5. Be grateful. Look for light in even dark situations. It is always there!
6. Sit with and breathe through the discomfort. The anger. The fear.
7. Be kind and compassionate with yourself and others.
“I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.”
We can’t control the turbulence of life, but we can allow ourselves to sit with the hard feelings in the dark, notice the light that is there, contribute where we can and then sometimes, just sometimes, we can get on our bikes and ride!