Friday, May 6, 2011
Speculations, Conspiracies, Doubts, and Judgments
Wow. What a week...or month..or two! From the earthquakes and radiation, the tornadoes that ravished through the southeast, killing so many in their path to the shocking turn in world events regarding Osama Bin Laden...add that to the myriad of issues that seem to me to be increasingly polarizing...the environment, the economy, human rights, workers' rights, politics, health, what we eat, products we buy, and yes, even the most recent royal wedding..the list goes on. Even subjects like yoga, a practice that has evolved from a casual interest in my life to a passion and vocation, have become controversial, evoking conflicting opinions from what is the "best" or "correct" styles to religious and dogmatic implications.
I find myself, in my mid-forties-quickly-sliding-closer-to-fifty, realizing that so little is a "given" in this world..no matter what I may have thought for the past forty-plus years. Once again I am reminded: "the older I get, the more I know the less I know"...and you can correctly quote ME on that.
Living in the metro Atlanta area and mercifully spared from the destruction of the storms last week, I personally felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and perspective mixed with sympathy and sorrow. Only an hour or so north of my home, tornadoes ripped through towns and flattening all it their path. Such a close call.....it felt as if we dodged a huge bullet..and we did. Many of my close friends and I rode an emotional roller coaster ride that evening, preparing for the worse, hoping for the best, and watching the weather reports until we felt it was safe to finally go to sleep without fear of a twister ripping through our homes. After several hours glued to the computer and TV, a little after midnight, an explosive thunder and lightening bolt touched down around what felt like a foot away from my bedroom window, followed by about 15 minutes or so of pounding rain, and then it was over. I went to sleep feeling safe and warm and at the time, unaware of the fact that hundreds of people frighteningly close to Atlanta had lost their lives...and MANY more had lost homes and belongings.
In the dark cool hours before the sun rises, I often find myself sitting at my laptop, sipping tea and contemplating about the day ahead. My sweet mutts and big orange tabby generally rally around me waiting for their breakfast or a walk while I catch up on emails, study for school, and check the news and facebook. It feels very peaceful and quiet, and all the turmoil swirling around the world seems so detached from my life. But it really isn't. Whether I feel it or not in the moment, we are all connected. My initial feeling of peacefulness and connection, though, of late, has been compromised with an overwhelming feeling of information overload and confusion..and frustration even. More than ever, polarizing views, often inflammatory and judgmental opinions, dogma of all sorts seem to prevail. Topics that were once a given, now are up for debate and criticism. Is this just a natural universal shift of increasing awareness and mindfulness? Or is it a sign of disillusionment or even of a sinister nature?
I don't know the answers. I do know that in my own journey of growth a common mantra has been: "When I know better, I do better." Growing up on Big Macs and frozen dinners and canned food, along with witnessing my father's lung cancer diagnosis and subsequent death when I was 20, led me to learn about health and nutrition, and now I am nearly certified as a nutritional consultant from Hawthorn University. I learned a long time ago not to automatically trust information just because it was fed to me via the news or government. My belief is that the USDA and FDA and many large corporations such as Monsanto and many (most) pharmaceutical companies have only their best interests..ie..$$$$..in mind and certainly not the best interests of the general public. The current debate over vaccinations and autism continues with conflicting studies and opinions, as well as the dangers (or not) of genetically modified foods and pesticides, plastics, and so on. The list is seemingly endless.
Today we have access to more information than ever before, and we are bombarded with it. The internet has exposed me to information about the horrors behind how we get bananas, wool, chocolate, and even computer parts and flowers. It's great to be aware and learn, though it can certainly be daunting. No action is without some sort of consequence somewhere. Just being alive is going to leave a footprint that is invariably going to be stomping on top of someone or some thing. It's unavoidable.
And on top of all this knowledge, some believe that nothing we hear is true. Just in the past 2 or 3 days, I have heard conflicting theories about 911, Obama's birth certificate, Osama Bin Laden, HAARP, chemtrails, and more. It makes my head spin...and hurt. And right when I have formed an opinion, another view comes to light and I wonder if I should entertain it at all or simply choose to avoid spending any time or energy on it.
What I do find is this...ultimately, giving too much headspace to all these issues is counterproductive and immobilizing for me. I'm guessing it is for some others too. I repeat, I don't know the answers. I don't know if there is a plot, as one of my friends believes with all her heart, that there are secret societies that control our government and news with sinister plans against humanity. I don't know if Osama was actually killed 10 years ago, the other day, or if he is still alive somewhere. I don't know the definitively best way of living or eating for all of the planet. I do know that the scope of what I don't know is way larger than what I do know.
I've come to a few conclusions:
1: There is no ONE way that works for every living being on the planet and it is not my place to judge others' decisions.
2: Most issues have many shades of gray and are not simply black/white, right/wrong, or healthy/unhealthy.
3: Most of us (I include myself) have mindsets that are often already set and will hear what they want to hear.
4: Living in a state of fear of the unknown is not productive for anyone.
5: Having a healthy concern and curiosity for knowledge is not the same as being fearful or being a consipracy theorist.
6: Being a skeptic and being a cynic are not the same thing...though some can be both.
7: Keeping an open mind and working toward making positive choices daily and surrendering that for which I have no control is a huge key to my happiness.
8: I can either go crazy and live in a scary world, only focusing on negative, destructive thoughts, or I can make it a priority to live in the moment, at least for today.
9: I will never know all the answers.
10: If I ever do know all the answers...whatever that means..most likely it won't happen during this lifetime.
For today, reflect for a moment. Are you living in fear or do you have a sense of peace? Are you willing to take at least one step today towards achieving some peace, or contentment with you and your connection to the universe?