Save the World?… Savor the World?… How Either/Or Becomes Both/And

Save the World?… Savor the World?… How Either/Or Becomes Both/And

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world.  This makes it hard to plan the day. – E.B. White

I’ve straddled the horns of the savoring-saving dilemma for most of my adult life, certainly for all of 2021 so far.  Wanting to be conscious, creative, contributory; wanting to contribute to courageous, compassionate connection.  And wanting to deepen into an abiding “let your mind and heart find the natural peace and ease that is the natural peace and ease of the mind and heart… and stay there.”

It doesn’t have to be an either/or; it’s a fair amount of effort to maintain both/and. The heartache and the hope that is the mantra of our collective life right now, perhaps for all human beings for all of human history.

My professional organization was able to get a link for marriage and family therapists to register with the county public health department as essential workers.  I’ve had both COVID vaccinations and I’m grateful. And I receive daily requests for contributions to get the vaccines to people in prison, in refugee camps, in countries that don’t yet have any vaccines at all. Both/and priorities.

I’m profoundly grateful that my shoulder fracture is healing well and that the costs to me for the ER, x-rays, meds, orthopedic exams, physical therapy, rehab equipment totals all of $420 to date.  Grateful for health insurance, and aching for the millions who don’t have health insurance, don’t have health care, don’t have health.

I live in northern California. We are experiencing an early spring. We can savor the abundance of flowering plum trees (see 9,000 Ways to Be a Plant) and quietly whisper our fears about drought and wildfire sure to follow this summer.

In the United States we’re about to see the roll-out of an economic stimulus package designed to provide some kind of safety net for people without jobs, without health care, at the same time we continue to confront deep divisiveness in our democracy that just won’t go away.

It’s this dance of heartache and hope that both inspires and flummoxes me.  Both/and.

I wish I had an easy answer. I don’t. Maybe, in the long arc of human history, there have never been any easy answers. 

There is practice. The both/and of awareness and action. And maybe this dance of awareness (savoring) and action (saving) is the practice of life, all the time. Knowing what we know (at least being able to unlearn and re-think what we know) and taking wise action guided by empathy and compassion for the suffering we are attempting to address.

Both/and.  Keep calm…and carry on.