Inclusion means including all people, even Trump supporters

Whether you are a Republican or Democrat or classify as something different, whether you are a Trump supporter or not, whether you are black, LGBTQ, a citizen or an immigrant or both, there are fundamental similarities that we have first as humans and second as Americans.

Today, I was heading to my car in front of the house. Our neighbor, who we have lived across from for a few years, was heading out to her car as well. I asked if she was marching tomorrow. She said, “I am a Trump supporter.” I said, “Well, have a great day.”

And it struck me. I thought this march was about inclusion, yet she feels that because she supports Trump she is excluded. She is a woman. The march is for women, yet she feels excluded.

I felt sad.

This realization touched at the heart of the divide in America and the world.

Though we deep have fundamental similarities: the desire to be safe, belong and have dignity – she felt none of those with me, her neighbor.

Now, I don’t know that is true in totality. I am making some broad assumptions about how she feels from my perspective if I was in her shoes: the minority, as far as I am aware, in my north Seattle neighborhood.

And I thought, minorities are who we are trying to include, even if they are Trump supporters. Why are we not broadening our perspective?

Today in the Mark Nepo Book of Awakenings there was a story about a monk who was always complaining. The teacher who was tired of hearing all the complaining asked the student to go get some salt. The student returned with the salt. The teacher asked the student to taste the salt and report how it tasted. The student said, “Bitter.” Then the teacher walked the student to a lake and asked the student to put the salt in the lake. The student complied. The teacher asked the student to taste the water and report how it tasted. The student said, “Fresh.”

The teacher replied, “The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is enlarge your sense of things…Stop being a glass. Be the lake.”

Be the lake. I thought this was apropos for the inclusion march tomorrow.

If we only include likeminded people, how is this inclusion?

How will we ever grow into our full capacity as humans and see what we are truly capable of?

What is the larger story where we all can fit together?

With all of our capacity as humans, why are we not using it in this trying time.

The Dali Lama, and others like him, have found ways, through practice, to expand their consciousness, to include, listen and understand – not necessarily agree or give up their dignity – but to see the dignity of another, that they, and their opinions, have worth and value. That they are worthy of belonging.

And as I said above, that is a basic need of human beings. A way we can feel safe. And open to the true potential we have only scratched the surface of.

I am practicing daily to expand my ability. It is hard work. Letting go of my opinion to truly hear and see another. Letting their opinion have equal weight in my mind. I feel physically and mentally exhausted. Some part of me wants to be like I have always been and fight back. To rage and share all the reasons they are wrong. Yet this does not feel true for me anymore. It feels counter to the more beautiful world my heart knows is possible.

So, I will not fight.

I will stand for what I believe in.

Yet I will not do so by taking the dignity of another.

I will expand my capacity to understand – what happens for me and what happens for them. This, as I said, is not an easy path. But through practicing, I have found more softness in myself, and been privileged to see the softness in others when I let go and open.

So tomorrow, I will seek to understand. Not only my fellow marchers, but all people of this beautiful city. For someday, we may really have to rely on each other. And I better start practicing now. Because when that day comes, it will be too late, and we will be too overwhelmed to do anything that we have not been practicing.

Need to learn some new practices on how to be the lake? Invite perspective.

 

My Ideal Woman

My ideal woman

is wise and gritty, and

travels from thought to thought

saying everything

in 12 long sentences.

 

My ideal woman

is strong

in body and spirit.

She sings with vigor

in the way she moves,

grieves,

and stands with presence

as she stalks silence.

 

My ideal woman

is comfortable in her own skin;

bumps, warts, grey hair.

She sees all of this as an expression

of the freedom to change

and the demand to love

herself

and others,

even when love feels far away.

 

My ideal woman

is soft of heart

and hard to corner.

She is evasive and shy.

Yet once she has opened to you,

you become held

as if by irreversible magnets

to her belief that anything is possible

for you.

Make no doubt,

for she will not allow it.

You are a gift.

Let me say it again,

You are a gift.

And that

through her

you will always know.

 

My ideal woman

is tortured,

sane,

insane.

She groans,

screams,

cries,

drums,

dances,

and speaks in tongues.

 

My ideal woman

eats cream,

butter,

and sugar

because they taste good.

She worries about the

animals

we choose for food.

She mourns and thanks them.

She wonders if it helps.

 

My ideal woman

stops to feel the trees,

their deep giving presence

and tries to be them

and move through the world

on tree time,

long and

eternal.

She searches them out,

to be in their presence

through wild hare-brained schemes, in which others join her

and wonder why they came.

Only to laugh

because she knows

how to speak to

that part of them for which

they have forgotten the language.

 

My ideal woman

tries to love that which she doesn’t understand.

Tries to stand for what she believes.

Holds loyalty long and

regardless if it is held in return.

Once you are loved by my ideal woman,

the light is always left on for you.

The tea is always hot.

And you may get a nip of scotch,

depending on how the stars align,

or the phase of the moon,

or if the tarot pulls the tower.

 

My ideal woman

lives with no constraints.

Other than to strive to be kind

and see,

really see,

with her heart,

all those that cross her path.

For there is nothing else.

 

My ideal woman is learning

how to be

the ideal woman

she dreams of becoming.

 

The Earth will Hold us as we Burn

Lately, grief has been my constant companion.

When something triggers an emotion, I hear myself take in a breath, moan soft and low, and then I wait. What comes next is sometimes a river of tears and sometimes just a passing squall.

I have never been one to be sad for long. I have always found a way to push through the underbrush of deep emotions or feel the joy in bushwhacking through them.

But now, I just want to stay under the brush, captured by the hooked arm of a fallen tree, in a dark and damp place, risking hypothermia, and be present to heaving of my chest.

Grief is an overwhelming feeling of despair due to the perceived and paralyzing hopelessness of a particular situation.

The grief for me comes from the realization that all things I love will die. Maybe sooner than I thought, before me or maybe after. They are dying right now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With this statement, I feel the area around my heart constrict, I hear a moan and a groan and then feel tears.

I also know that with them – the animals, the trees, what our country stands for –  a part of me is also dying – it feels like my hope – and this is painful too. For I did not know hope could die.

Yet this pain is also what opens my heart to those moments of joy sprinkled throughout the day.

  • Greeting a dark morning on my meditation cushion.
  • The majestic Great Blue Heron on the smelly pipeline slew. Does it know that the water is poison?
  • The frost on the windows of my car. So many patterns! Is this an impact of the changing jet stream due to the melting polar ice caps? The frost takes no notice.
  • The people, awake, alert, and learning to stand for what they believe in.

 

img_0001The gift and the curse of being human is the ability to feel it all and know what the frost and the heron don’t. And use that knowing for sacred, body-informed activism. Acting on behalf of those that cannot or will not.

What we often neglect to understand, as humans, is that the process of feeling is transformative. And transformation is generally not pleasurable, or everyone would be searching it out. Transformation requires dying to parts of ourselves so that other parts can live.

It means willingly giving up something tangible for another thing, that is not guaranteed, to emerge. And that is never easy.

Transformation is not for the faint at heart. It requires courage, fortitude, persistence in the face of overwhelming armies of people telling us not to transform – “mend my life, each voice cries – but you didn’t stop…”*, it requires a deep listening to space and time, it requires doing things that appear to be not doing, it asks us to question our values, actions and behaviors. It turns us upside down and inside out with no guarantees of a satisfying or even workable final product.

And it means being burned. Maybe literally as we burn our planet’s atmosphere with carbon output – For what? Stuff? Are you OK with that? – or the forests that give us air and sequester the carbon, or our civilizations with nuclear weapons unleashed because we can’t hold our tongue in service of something bigger than us.

In my grief, I reached out to the world and received a response. Not one of soothing consolation that everything would be OK. I received Kali, the ancient Indian goddess of – I still can’t figure her out – fire, transformation?

She is wild, natural world magic, messy, violent, and in your face. She appears in service of a greater good which may not be good for me. She is not controllable or at the beck and call of anyone and she may turn on the one who called her.

Kali is the force of nature. Which we forget does not care how much we paid for the house before the hill slides, or how thick the retaining wall as the ocean reclaims the land.

Kali, in a strange way, gives me hope. All we can do is be present to each moment and move toward transformation.

We may not survive, but the earth will.

We, the most conscious mammals our world has ever known, can’t take the earth. We can take everything else with us into the fire, but the planet is bigger than us.

She will hold us while we burn.

Back to grief. When I think of Kali, and fire and transformation, I think not only of my children, but of your children. I want them to be able to see the sunrise, and breathe the air. I want it to not be so hard for them. But I also want them to be awake. For there is no chance of survival without being awake. Yet being awake is transformative, and I have already explained that.

We may not literally have to be burned by carbon emissions or nuclear wars, but letting go of our attachments to what we have become accustomed to can almost be a bigger fire for it is a choice and something we have to choose every day – to not have what others have, to not do what others do, to not belong in certain ways, to potentially find new community – instead of a forced choice of nuclear war or not being able to go outside and breathe the air due to pollution, we have to willingly walk into the fire.

Are you ready?

Here are two things you can do today.

  • Get outside. No matter how cold, rainy, snowy, or warm and fill your body with appreciation for the air, and trees, the water and soil. Fill yourself. All we can count on is this very moment. That is really all we have.
  • Be willing to not win. Lose an argument. Take the fall for something you may only be partially responsible for. Feel that deep pain of letting go of your ego. This is transformation.

Don’t feel safe outside? Can’t bear to lose? Invite perspective. Look for our fall programs of transformation, if you are really ready. If not stay the course, transformation is coming, whether we want it or not, it is best to be prepared.

*Mary Oliver – The Journey