Saving the World and Savoring the World
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
This balancing of saving and savoring is something most of us go through on a daily basis. We care about the planet and the economy and human rights; we also care about our children, our jobs, our need to unplug and renew.
Many of my friends, and perhaps you, marched last Friday in support of the Global Climate Strike. And other friends watched their neighbor’s young children so the neighbors could march. And one of my neighbors took their children on the last camping weekend of the season. And another friend continued to care for her aging mother succumbing to dementia. I saw three clients, wrote this post, and watched a 5-hour Master Class with Bob Woodward, rediscovering from his 50 years as an investigative reporter with the Washington Post and author of 19 best-selling books on Watergate, 9/11, the CIA, the Supreme Court, presidents from Nixon to Trump, etc., the power of keeping the truth of the catastrophes we face, as individuals, as a nation, as a global community, front and center.
And responding to what’s front and center, global and personal, while savoring the privilege of being alive to be able to do so, is the art of living a meaningful life.
I often teach that mindfulness practice is foundational to wise and resilient responses to challenges and catastrophes, personal and global.
To meditate means to go home to yourself. Then you know how to take care of the things that are happening inside you, and you know how to take care of the things that happen around you.
– Thich Nhat Hanh
What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.
– Meister Eckhart
I teach this arc of becoming deeply clear within, of what’s true, of what’s needed, so that our engagement with difficulties and even disasters, personal or global, will be wise and effective. And then…
The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.
– Vance Havner
Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
As we begin to take action in the world, to “be the change you seek” it’s vital to remember that the practice of “little and often” still applies.
Whether that’s getting stop signs installed at a dangerous intersection in your hometown, facilitating a grief group for recent widows and widowers, tutoring refugees in English, campaigning for a progressive candidate in the next primary, taking parenting classes to become less frazzled in raising three children.
You don’t need to do everything. Do what calls your heart; effective action comes from love. It is unstoppable, and it is enough.
– Joanna Macy
I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
– Edward Everett Hale
And then the savoring part. To celebrate the deepening sense of meaning and purpose in our lives when the courage and determination within begins to transform the world we live in and the people around us. To celebrate the hope and joy quickening in others because of our actions. To be in awe that life exists at all, and that taking steps, even the smallest steps, to “be the change you seek” in the larger world can be so nourishing to the heart and spirit.