Two questions that have been surfacing for many these past few weeks:
How do I keep going?
Why even bother__________ (taking action, writing the play, making the film, giving the talk, singing the song, pioneering the intersection of two things that involve a verb you will invent...)?
Yet you and I both know that these questions aren't unique to the current moment.
You and I both know that this current moment is merely igniting the doubt that's always there.
You may know that doubt to be a not-so-welcome-ever-present-companion in your pursuit of what matters most.
But what if these doubts are guideposts telling you that you are headed in the right direction?
What if the moment you want to give up is the moment you must keep going?
The woman and her mother were walking through the park, having a distressing conversation about The Time of Right Now, sharing all of the articles they had been reading, trading appalling fact after appalling fact, upping the ante of stress and anxiety by exchanging the litany of horrors they faced in their current world.
Suddenly, they came upon a clearing and discovered a classical ballet dancer (in pointe shoes! Dancing on brick!) offering the gift of her dance to whoever was willing to watch.
The choice: To stay or go?
Inside her head, the woman's pragmatic voice said: "Let's go."
Time is precious, and besides, they were having a Very Important Conversation. If only they could keep rehashing how awful everything was, they might somehow be able to get somewhere.
Also, the look in this dancer's eye seemed to say: "I am giving a performance that is not just about execution and the way my body looks. I'm interested in something more human and dangerous than that. Are you in?"
The woman felt that precarious feeling in her organs when an opening was about to happen - the possibility of something so so so tender and present and alive - and that stopping to experience this aliveness might just mean letting go and surrendering to the deep discomfort of the present moment - and the sadness - without any strong and tangible solution for getting out of it.
Ugh. Rehashing New York Times articles and talking about how bad the bad guys were would be so much easier.
But her soul voice whispered: "Stay a minute."
The woman happened to be hard at work at learning to trust that rumbling in her organs as a signal of something not to run away from, but rather, lean into, and in an uncharacteristic uprising, her soul voice beat her pragmatic voice!
So the woman and her mother stood, taking in what felt like the most exquisite beauty they had seen or felt in eons - crying into their sunglasses, feeling the discomfort of not being able to "fix" anything, and surrenduring to the feeling of heartbreak they had so artfully been trying to avoid.
And for one blessed, magical moment, the world opened up and the separation seemed to disappear: the woman became her mother, her mother became the dancer, and the dancer became the woman.
(When we have the courage to unzip, we realize we are each other.)
As they - we (you're getting that this is autobiographical...) finally walked away, we did the usual zipping back in of our vulnerable parts - it was habit to keep them tucked away and who knows what could happen if they stayed out there too long. But, though unspoken, we were somehow different to each other now, closer, a bit more undone. As Chekhov says, art had prepared our souls for tenderness, and we began to heal.
In times like these (and times like always) we underestimate our impact.
If one of you reading this email decides to keep going/start/recommit to what makes your heart sing, and then their energy transforms just one more person, and just one more, and just one more...
I'm not sure if we know what's possible when we collectively unleash our gifts to the world but I think it will be very very very astonishing.
Sometimes rising up means dancing in pointe shoes on brick, not evening knowing that you prepared one mother and one daughter for tenderness.
In a world that measures our worth by numbers of followers and likes, I forget this.
I wish I could tell the dancer: Thank you for your gifts and bravery. You had no idea the impact you had on our two human hearts.
I wish I could tell her this just in case she too has been struggling with How can I keep going? and Why bother?
The moment you want to give up is the moment you must keep going.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for you, dear ones
For your presence, for your good hearts, and for what you bring forth
And I am thankful for what is still within you, ready to be born.
Because hear me: it could save us all.
Let's give thanks, and dance on bricks.