Friday, December 5, 2014

When the World Sucks, What Can We DO?

An Annunciation Print in My Parlor
For me, the annunciation is all about saying yes to a calling. You're asked, sure, so there's free will involved, but you say yes...regardless of the fear and difficulty.

Right now, I'm thinking about this a lot more than usual. It's advent, of course, and I'm on sabbatical, of course, but the events of the last week or more involving the rubber stamping of police brutality as our accepted norm...that's what really has me thinking about the big yes of our lives.

I think most of us have been left with this profound sense of powerlessness.

And it's complicated...understanding your place in the bigger picture and what you can do, what you are called to do.

It's complicated on a personal level for each and every one of us. WHY are we doing what we choose to do? Why are we not?

All of that can go back to how we feel about our very existence. Writing for myself (and I know many will recognize this), I have struggled all my life thinking it's my responsibility to fix ALL that is wrong in the world. I can very directly tie this back to my childhood and little me thinking everything that was scary and violent in my world could be fixed if only I did the "right" thing.

It's easy to move in this world from a sort of Messiah complex when you've been abused, but that doesn't really help anyone, including ourselves.

My history with this is long.

As soon as I got to college, Penn State Main, and learned of the hidden homeless issue there, I founded an organization to deal with that. I got busy. It felt good. (State College happens to have had at the time -- 1987 to 1991 -- the highest rents in the state, including, yes, compared to Philadelphia.) We established myriad programs, raised money, did blanket and coat runs to larger areas. So much.

After college, I felt pretty lost for a long time, thinking my life only meant something if I were saving other lives (and I'm finding this is still one of my main drives and again...it's not really healthy).

In my late 20s, I ended up working for Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement. At the time, they were starting to focus most of their efforts toward racial inequality but they also worked on practically every other issue related to peace.

When I worked for the peace movement, I met some of the most not-peaceful people of my life. Activism is often linked to big, loud, aggressive anger, and again, that's not helping anyone.

Eventually my work became about teaching. And to this day, it still is.

But I feel called and pulled toward working in a way that is about creating more than teaching -- creative collaborations include an element of teaching, of course, but it's also very different.

And I find myself, again, for the billionth time in my life, thinking that the thing I really love most in this world -- dance -- is not "good enough" because it's not on the front lines.

Or is it?

There are many ways we can help without becoming martyrs and I think that's key.

I have been so impressed with, for example, the power of Twitter to serve up news that the "news" is no longer bothering with.

SOCIAL NETWORKING IS THE PEOPLE'S MEDIA.  Use it. Get out information when you come upon it. Share. Dialogue. Obliterate ignorance. #IgnoranceIsNOTBliss

But where does this leave dance or art or your love of business or your calling to ((insert it here))?

The point of working on ourselves is not just to work on ourselves, but it is the first step.

We can't help much if we're messed up and filling our own needs through activism. It wonks the transmission and gets in the way.

But the eventual point of working on ourselves is to take ourselves out into the world and create a world that is free and just for everyone. A world in which EVERYONE has the opportunity to fulfill their potential -- in whatever way that is meant to be.

So step one, get your own shit together.

Step two, do the work you were born to do because when you do that, you're setting ONE human free which becomes part of a chain reaction.

Step three, be an ambassador for a free world. Take your work to people who might not typically have access. Get it where it's most needed.

Right now, that's all I've got.

I'd love to hear other things people are doing to help and to integrate helping into their work and passions.


If you want to get a taste of how we create more happy, strength, and connection through the practice of Kintsugi Dance, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.