“No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.”~ Albert Einstein.
I am not sure when it was that I began to acknowledge that I was not happy in my marriage. When you have four young kids and work full-time as a nurse (mostly on the night shift) you tend not to have a lot of time for introspection. And I cannot point to one incident, one turning point. It was more like a slow drip of gathering evidence that eventually could not be ignored. As the kids grew less dependent, I lost myself in library books, swallowed up in that alternate reality, able to be transported to another realm.
I always had good friends, women with whom I could share my frustrations, discover that they were going through similar things (or worse), and sometimes return home remembering the man I had fallen in love with, and things would be ok for a while. But at some point, I started to do a lot of self-reflection, and spent time in New Age bookstores reading books of a more mystical nature. I was gradually finding resonance with writers that some might find a little ‘kooky’ – reading books like the Celestine Prophecy, books by Brian Weiss about reincarnation, books about crystals and tarot cards. A friend had given me a set of Runes – and I had found them to be very useful tools for reflection, that helped me to strengthen my spiritual core. I had traveled a long way from the structured Christian life my parents had created for me.
I discovered a poem (and I can’t tell you now where it came from), entitled ‘Imagine a woman in love with herself’ (Patricia Lynn Reilly). It is a powerful, empowering poem. I left a copy of it on the desk of a friend of mine, a friend who had shared with me that she had spent a long time being very unhappy. She was tall, but had always longed to be petite. She had battled an eating disorder as a teenager, and it still flared up from time to time. She had left an unhappy marriage. I put the poem on her desk at work before I went home at the end of my night shift and didn’t see her for some time after that. When we did meet up, she shared that the poem had been life-changing for her, it had helped her to acknowledge a lot of what she needed to change in her relationship with herself.
Sometimes we are lucky, we have that event, or a conversation, or read a poem that sparks a change in us, that helps us to move into a new way of being. Other times it is a slow and uneven march, a feeling that you are lost and uncertain, doubling back on your path as you search for answers. I can remember finding a book that seemed to speak to me, that had so many messages that I could relate to, and then discovering that I had bought the same book some years before. There is a Buddhist saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. How many times has your best friend said: ‘I tried to tell you this years ago, but you wouldn’t listen’, as you share some epiphany with her.
Last week, in our nation’s capital, in the Capitol, we watched an event unfold that I can only hope will be one of those life-changing events for this country. To be fair, there have been (feels like) many such moments, especially over the last four years, moments that have sparked outrage; moments that have galvanized movements and activism; events that have motivated ‘regular folks’ to stand up and be counted, to make their voices heard.
But the sight of armed insurrectionists brutally attacking law enforcement in broad daylight, secure in the knowledge that they would not be met with an equal and opposing force was shocking. For those who have been hiding behind white privilege while denying that it exists, surely this fact could not be ignored. That if instead of being mostly white men and women, if it had been a crowd of even one tenth the size, if it had been a group of armed black men, marching up those steps, they would have been met with a hail of bullets, no questions asked.
Are we up to the moment? Can we imagine a much different world? Many of us have escaped the weight of daily news by ‘binge-watching’ TV shows. Bridgerton, a period drama set in 19th century England, has allowed such an escape. A charming historic romance, it is your typical boy meets girl and they are attracted to each other. But events conspire to keep them apart or they have to deny their feelings for each other. And eventually it all works out happily ever after (sorry if I just gave away the plot of every Harlequin romance I ever read in my youth!!!). But what made Bridgerton breath-taking was that the characters were played by people of all racial origins, without the normal association with status. The societal differences were there (this was a story of the aristocracy, after all), but it was as if color did not exist. Even the Queen (Charlotte) obviously (though very light of complexion) had roots in Africa. How refreshing! How amazing to see white and black courtiers, white and black servants, and only a hint that things had ever been different.
Imagine a world! Is it possible that the backward momentum we have observed recently, with racial differences on full display (just look at the statistics on Covid) could result in real change? Can this be a moment when the US confronts its racist past and present and creates a future that truly gives equal rights and justice and the pursuit of happiness to all? Could it possibly be the watershed moment that we will look back at and say, if it wasn’t for that deadly assault? Imagine a world.
On this Friday morning, as we get ready to see a new President take stage, we are hopeful. But new possibilities can only happen if we can change old patterns, the old ways of doing things, and see the world anew. Have a wonderful weekend, Family!