Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tomorrow the world begins anew



This morning I'm thinking about September 12, 2001, how impossible it was to believe that September 11 would not last forever. I felt the same way on October 18, 1989, the day after the Loma Prieta earthquake. The electricity came back on at the house where I lived in San Francisco, and I believe my ex husband and I even ventured out of the house for a little while.

There was a November 23, 1963, an August 6, 1945, an April 9, 1865, a July 5, 1776, and so on. In the realm of personal crisis, too, there is always the next day. Always. For instance, on February 2, 1979, though I was still unconscious, I was being well cared for in the hospital after a serious accident involving me, a Datsun B210 and a Southern Pacific freight train. In spite of what the doctors told me when I finally woke up a few days later, I was quite sure I would recover fully. Would I ever have found my way into "alternative" medicine if not for the train accident? I will never know. And yes, I recovered fully. I surely did!

The family going through its crisis, the family I mentioned yesterday, has shifted gears into the next day syndrome. These people share a deep-seated belief in their ability to cope with what has happened. I believe in their ability, too. They will cope, learn, evolve and grow wiser, kinder and more compassionate.

Disasters small and large are never the end of the world, not even December 21, 2012. Nope. The world goes on. Life goes on. Shit happens, but it is never the end of the story.

There are crises and disasters, and there is the recovery from these events. What my wise spirit guides tell me is that big "collisions" - the term they use, even the most destructive of these events, create possibilities for change and growth. They open doors to the new. Wisdom accumulates slowly, and is hard-won, they tell me. Crises such as what this family is undergoing is the fertile ground from where wisdom can arise. The work we have to do to become wiser, kinder and more compassionate is well worth it.

Perhaps my guides are as optimistic as we humans.

Here's a link to a TED talk about human optimism. Thank goodness for human optimism!


"Whatever happens, whether you succeed or you fail, people with high expectations always feel better, because how we feel — when we get dumped or we win employee of the month — depends on how we interpret that event.” (Tali Sharot)

What I'm in awe of this morning is the way in which the family I've been talking about has shifted gears already from the immediate shock of the crisis into clean up mode. They have rolled up their metaphorical sleeves, and have begun the work of healing, learning, and evolving to accommodate the wisdom that they'll accumulate through the process.

Storms and disasters and crises are inevitable in the course of our human lives. Thank goodness we're so optimistic! If we weren't, how would we ever muster the energy needed to recover from these events?

We try so hard. We make mistakes, and some of us give up, or so says Tali Sharot. But 80% of us can see the silver lining at the edge of every cloud. Onwards and upwards, hey? Hell yeah. Shalom.

6 comments:

Cheryl Cato said...

Excellent lecture by Tali Sharot. During her lecture I thought about my reaction to the aftermath of September 4, 2011 (the Bastrop County Complex Fires). For me diving into work to reinvigorate our landscape (or as much of it as I was able to do) made me somewhat optimistic for the future of my neighborhood. Realism may be a different story as 6 months later our property looks better, but across the street huge burned pines remain... they will eventually fall.

If I were a bit more optimistic than realistic I may not worry so much; but I am not a pessimist.

Cheryl Cato said...

On another note regarding the lecture, how do you think people in various areas of Mexico deal with the death and mutilation of their fellow people? How can they find optimism in the face of 3,000+ individuals killed in the city of Juarez last year? What about war torn areas of the Middle East and Africa? How do any of us see past the seeming hopelessness of the situation?

ellen abbott said...

to Cheryl...because we have to. what else are we going to do? We still live, we still breathe, we still wake up in the mornings, we still have to fuel our bodies, take care of our children, families. There is still beauty in the world and love. To give up and live a life of hopelessness...what misery. who wants to live like that? bad things happen and for some people, terrible things happen, but that's life. so we live or we die. I am fortunate, I've never had a terrible tragedy occur in my life though it doesn't mean I haven't slogged through some terrible times. but life moves on, things change, sometimes slowly, sometimes in a flash but unless you're ready to lay down and give in or to live life fearfully, you pick up the pieces and go forward.

Optimism and hope are hard wired I think, part of our biological imperatives to help us survive though I know some people do give up, give in. They commit suicide or waste away or retreat into sleep.

When you look out and see the burned forest, you see the end of something beautiful but it isn't really the end. It's just a chapter in the life of the land. It will be renewed and be beautiful again. that's the lesson. Life goes on.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ellen you and your snake powers are shining very brightly. Thank you.

Cheryl I think blame is one way people cope with adversity. It's so-and-so's fault - the president or king or husband or dog or job, etc etc. When we think that way, it seems like if we could just vamoose what isn't working, everything would be fine.

It's yet another way that optimism is tricky. In Germany in the 30s they were so desperately poor and destroyed, the blame game went way off the tracks.

It's interesting to think about.

Pam said...

Ellen is right. "To give up and live a life of hopelessness, what misery and who wants to live like that". Misery, grief,sadness are for most of us, terrible and draining places to be, and remaining there can make us ill.
"I feel so much better when I..." offers good healing when channelled in the right direction.

Reya Mellicker said...

"I feel so much better when I ..."

My new mantra, Pam. Thank you!