Keeping Historical Perspective...

The news alerts on my phone, social media, and all media, continuously blast stories about how bad things are in the US and around the world—this constant barrage of bad news causes such sadness, anxiety and wanting to constantly yell out, “crap, what now?” We’re all on a constant loop of hearing bad things happening around the world, but when I don’t read or hear about it, a friend will text me, asking if I’ve heard (insert the tragedy or travesty.) I hit my maximum of processing sad and bad events on the news yesterday. I took a few hours of my day to surround myself with lightness. I read funny posts that I normally scroll through without reading. I drove around dropping off and picking up my kids while listening to songs that I love and make me happy.

I also went through saved podcasts, inspirational posts, and videos that I always mean to finish reading or watch but never get around to them. I didn’t realize how down I’d been feeling the past few days until the fog broke hours after my dose of self-care! During my news sabbatical, I ran into this post about self-care during our troubled times by author, Elizabeth Lesser. She said, “There’s one more practice I have in my toolkit. It’s something people just don’t talk about enough: historical perspective. When I hear friends and pundits trashing-talking our times as if humanity has spun into the darkest ages ever known, I must object. Yes, we have big problems, some unique to the 21st century (global climate change and over-population being two of the most alarming), and some that have dogged humankind from the beginning of time (wars, terrorism, racism, sexism, and deep, pervasive inequality.) But we have also evolved as a species. Spend a little time reviewing the march of history if you don’t believe me. You may decide we are living in the best of times. All over the world, right now, millions of people are making innovative progress toward the good. I find it much more helpful to hitch my wagon to the forces of fearlessness and love, and with eyes wide open to the complexity of our times, to work for change even as I trust that all shall be well…” Elizabeth added, “Recently I have been re-reading Revelations of Divine Love, a book by the 14th century nun, Dame Julian of Norwich, who is said to be the first woman to write a book in English that has survived through the ages. It’s in that book that I found a quote I’ve used as a mantra for many years: ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’” She goes on to say, “Then I studied what life was like in the 1390s, when Dame Julian was writing. For most of her contemporaries life was short, harrowing, and dangerous. Political and natural disasters ravaged several continents. In Europe, the Black Death claimed almost 200 million lives, around a third of the population. Peasants revolted throughout Europe, Persia, and the far East. England and France fought a bloody war that lasted a hundred years. And yet, in her writing, Dame Julian encouraged people to trust that a wise and loving plan was in the works, one that was too grand and overarching for our small human minds to perceive. And this is why she assured those who came to her seeking council and comfort that “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Elizabeth’s post was enlightening and made me feel good about hitching my own wagon to fearlessness and love and opening my eyes to our evolution. Bravo, Elizabeth Lesser, and Dame Julian!

Another inspirational boost was goop's first podcasts. Gwyneth Paltrow interviewed Oprah about the plethora of current events, which made me pause because I didn’t want to go down the rabbit hole of hearing about big problems. To my delight, Oprah had such great views about the current evolution of our society, that’s being led by the movements happening in the US and around the world. She also brought up a memorable moment that happened on the Oprah Show, of a mother whose son was in his deathbed, and as the mother laid next to him and embraced him as he took his last breath, his last words to her were, “mom, it was all so simple.” I watched that episode of Oprah’s show more than a decade ago, and it left such an impression on me that I still talk about it to this day! It’s half of my daily mantra when I meditate, “Be gentle with yourself by living in simplicity and humility.” And while we self-care and hitch all of our wagons to fearlessness and love, let's try to keep historical perspective, so that we'll simply know in our hearts that--All shall be, and can be well, once again.

In hope, I’m fearless.


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