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  • Writer's picturecpasseromft

The Light, the Dark. Where Are We Going?

Updated: Mar 4

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen

In 2022, after two friends died, after my mother and dog died, after Covid ripped through the world leaving its devastation and social unrest, after the Jan 6th insurrection, after George Floyd's murder shocked us (white folks) worldwide, as gun violence continued its devastation, and while all social decorum seemed to be leaving us, the hatred we have for one another simply could not be denied. By the end of that year, I found myself feeling something I had never felt. I didn't see it coming, really. All I was aware of was the shock I seemed to constantly be in as we all watched, participated in and were affected by the breakdown of society in the US.

By the end of fall of 2022 though, it was clear to me that this feeling, the one I had no real experience with, was overcoming me. The rage I had felt at the sheer unyielding corruption and violence people were perpetrating against one another had become something else. Something flatter and without energy. The heaviness, the feeling that I was dragging my body around, the crying, the numbness accompanied me day after day after day. Will this ever lift? It was hopelessness I was feeling and it was introducing itself to me. I was depressed and was watching apathy settle in to my bones, leaving no trace of belief in my fellow humans to attain real change given the astounding state of things. I was devastated by the trajectory with which we appeared to be having a toxic and deepening love affair. And I was mortified by how low our collective bottom is. We were doomed, I thought. It's over. I'm fried. All the efforts I and millions of others had made as we committed lifetimes of our ever-unfolding moments to this rooted belief in the light, were for naught. All of that 'leading with love' seemed some kind of pipe dream. A farce. An illusion and a cosmic joke with all of us at the ass end of it.

One late fall morning, while standing in line at a local cafe, I flippantly said to my close friend that I envied our mutual friend who had died. Yes, I envied him. He missed 'all of this' and how fortunate for him. Somewhat alarmed, she leaned in a bit closer to find out to what degree I truly felt what I was saying. My nervous system, having barely survived all of what had transpired in those recent several years, was overwhelmed and overextended. I found myself emotionally wrung out and wanting out. Feeling done. It was at this point that I realized that I needed to find someone to process this with.

Now it's 2024. I've spent the last two years doing some healing. I took a month off and spent time in the Pacific Northwest, my heart most at home with that coast and those majestic redwoods. I started painting; a lifelong desire. I've returned to singing and playing the guitar after having lost the inspiration. Took a road trip to New England in autumn and nourished my heart and soul. I've had lots of time in my gardens. And there have been many moments of feeling myself again. I've never captured who I was before 2015 but I've had glimpses and some longer looks at my life-loving self as I am now, after being reshaped by so many personal and societal events.

But alas, it appears we remain in the same collective atmosphere as before. Remember the love affair with the destructive trajectory? We're still collectively self-destructing it seems. Consequently, and sadly, it has been a relatively short hiatus for me; the ending of which became obvious to me last week while listening to a podcast. Someone raised this question for the podcasters to consider: If you could go back in time and change one thing that would alter history (your own or a more global event) what would that be? I stopped the podcast because I wanted my own moment to consider this, without influence. Not even half a minute passed before I came up with my answer.

If I could change one thing?

I'd go back to the point in evolution to the genesis of human development and I would stop it from happening. Yep. No humans. Even when I type it here, I feel a slight lifting in my chest at the thought of how free of us the planet would be and how free we would be of one another. The pain and the suffering humans cause would not exist; would have never existed. Think of it! There would be no history or presence of wars and rape. No child or elder assault and abuse. No mass shootings. No racism. No slavery. No animal abuse. No roadways built over fertile soil. No mass hunger. No one feeling less than. No illusions of superiority. No poisoning of air and water. No need for healing and growth because there would be no injury.

Zero evidence of human harm.

To consider this affords me a certain kind of illusory freedom from all of it and for a moment, I can rest there, imagining. But alas, illusions, by definition, don't typically dwell in reality. So my reprieve is suddenly overtaken by the utter grief I feel that this is my 'one thing'. How devastating it is and how telling to consider that my only wish toward undoing history is to entirely omit people from it. Essentially, if I could, I would eliminate our presence here without leaving a trace. When I spoke this aloud to my therapist, she heard remnants of the sentiment I expressed in the cafe line that led me to her 2 years ago. She noted the same heaviness and despair.

She was right.

I don't know how to not care about this or think of it on repeat. I struggle to authentically carry on as if the once life-giving activities I engage in aren't simply a mirage I've created to momentarily ignore the devastation I feel at the ways humans treat one another and the earth. We're a self-destructive lot, overall, who appear to not care much about the suffering of others enough to put our big money and big energy and efforts to cleaning up the mess we've made. We just allow all of the atrocities to continue...we clearly accept it all because we don't do much about any of it. It just plays out, day after day, year after year, decade after decade...on and on for centuries!

I watched something online recently about the heroic landing of US Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River by Sully Sullenberger in 2009. A psychologist was talking about emotions and their purposes. She described this emotion, elevation, as 'a warm feeling in your chest when you see acts of moral virtue.' That feeling has the power to inspire us to also help others; to band together and protect one another. I would say this 'warm feeling' in one's chest is evidence of the ember of our humanity warming us from within. And when something happens that activates it, we feel elevation simply from the inner resonance that naturally occurs. We feel lifted when we see groups of people acting as we should and want to act. It is a reminder of who we are and this feels good to us. We feel good. Our hearts open. We feel the goodness of people...and therefore, of ourselves.

And when a tragedy like the emergency landing of a plane in the Hudson River occurs, or 911 or other mass tragedies happen, people do, indeed, show up for each other. Sure, it's awesome to witness but what is it that renders it awesome? Think about it. Awe is reserved for and generated by what is amazing to us; what stands out, right? Good and kind collective efforts, acts of 'moral virtue' are awesome to us because they stand out, apart from the norm. And this...this awareness of the loss of our humanity such that collective kindness is awe-inspiring to us...this is the heartbreak for a person like me. It's uncommon to see people band together and help one another and so it generates elevation and awe in us...that warm feeling in the chest. When we act as we would naturally act if we were in touch with ourselves as humans, if we act as is emblematic of our true nature, we find it unusual and awe-inspiring. We perceive it as standing out precisely (and sadly) because it does stand out.

It's heartbreaking that we don't know who we are. It's heartbreaking that we have created a collective existence based more often on moral corruption than virtue. It's heartbreaking that we require tragedy in order to generate this sense of connection and mutual caring. We have so broken ourselves as a group, that unless the need for us to look after each other and be helpful is glaringly obvious, most of us forget about one another.

So no matter that I have believed in our goodness and want to see us in this way, looking honestly at what human presence here on the planet has brought, the evidence is clearly to the contrary. And it is to THIS reality that I respond with utter despair and a crisis of belief and confidence in my fellow humans, as a group. We just don't create systems for loving and supporting one another and the feeble ones we do have are resisted and fought against by certain factions of our political landscape. We don't collectively want to give. We don't systemically look out for each other. The systems we've created by which and through which we live are innately unfair and generally unkind and do nothing to solve the real issues at the heart of our collective demise.

Social connection is the most evolutionarily adaptive experience that human beings have, this psychologist went on to say, because when needed, the notion is that humans will help other humans. And I believe it is our nature to help and to look after each other, yes. This is precisely what makes us human; this impulse to extend, to help, to feel when others are hurt and to want to be a part of what brings comfort and connection. I have believed deeply and without wavering, in this as a basic and fundamental truth. It has been a guiding tenet of my existence; that we are, at the heart of it all, good and decent. We are kind. We are helpful. I have believed this with all my heart and have come to our collective defense in numerous conversations with others who could not see this quality as a basic human trait.

But herein lies the only redemption I can generate that will cut through the despair I feel on a fairly consistent basis and as it becomes one of my guideposts to assuage my hopelessness, I will share it here:

Patriarchy, as a system of hierarchy and death, can only generate this kind of outcome so here we sit in it's inevitability. It lacks the ingredients for honor so honor, as a steady presence here among us and our systems, is absent. It lacks the ingredients for fairness. For reverence. For accountability. For respect and collective value. For imperfection. For generosity and abundance. It simply and lacking.

So, if I can use my perception to see the chaos, the corruption, the sickness and decline that we're witnessing as the fall of patriarchy, then I say, bring it on!! Faster and with a vengeance! Let's move this thing! If this is the beginning of the downfall of a system that is incapable of creating anything else but what we're subject to today, then let's get on with it! Let it crack and crumble and fall! Let the chaos bring us to the breaking point; to the pile of collective ash and rubble so that we can, one day, rise out of the fire like the majestic phoenix, wings spread around the globe, expressing new life! To wonder! To awe! Imagination! Creativity! Love!

Goodbye patriarchy! Can't you see that your time has come? Let this one burn out and relieve us of it's misery. And from the cracks of destruction, as it gasps its dying breaths, the light, the light gloriously shines through. Let there be born a new day! A new age! Let us love as our primary life force. Let the ember of our common humanity warm us from within. And then? Nature will take its beautiful, regenerative and life-giving course!

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