“Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much…”
Fragment of a poem by Pablo Neruda
“There comes a time when we must allow something timeless to touch us in order to truly change and move beyond our fixed attitudes and limited understanding of the mysteries of life. When it seems like all might end in disaster, it becomes a question of finding the deeper imagination of life, the enduring patterns and essential stories that reunite us to the pulse of nature and the heart of culture….the inner star that used to be called the light inside the soul, the light found in the depths of darkness, does not simply run out of energy and lose its brightness, because it is secretly connected to something divine. I’m not talking in religious terms, I’m talking in the old language of spirit and soul and saying what so many old stories say, that we are each secretly connected to something divine and to the dream of the world, which must take a new shape again, as it has done many times. “ — Michael Meade
Our frenetic culture has been put in an enforced time out. The locomotive pulling our train has suddenly thrown on the brakes. Nobody knows what comes next. We’re not used to being quiet. We are still moving our arms too much, to paraphrase Neruda. We’re addicted to our hyperactive lifestyle with its extroverted pastimes. We don’t want to be quiet and meditate. We certainly don’t want to spend any more time alone with ourselves than we have to.
This can be a time of shedding our distractions and getting to know ourselves if we’re willing. Yes, some of us will invent new ways to stay too busy. Some of us will be tapping our feet until this is over, but there will also be folks who will discover richness and beauty in the quiet. They will start to notice the quality of the light in the morning, the quality of their thoughts in the middle of the night, the delicate colors of their interior and exterior worlds. There is a lot to be discovered that has nothing to do with getting and keeping.
If those who organize our world decide to provide us with the means to have food and shelter, maybe we can put aside our anxieties and find some calm. The pace of our existence is suddenly slower now. That’s a more natural pace. The rhythm we’ve been living is anything but natural. This enforced withdrawal from the world might give us a chance to develop a life that has depth and substance. Maybe we can start to create a more meaningful way to live.
Some people are saying the old ways are finished. I’m sure that we can easily create another destructive and stupid way to live, and there will be those who insist that we must do so. I just hope that enough people with a better vision of things will use this opportunity to promote a kinder path. We can be kinder to nature, kinder to life. We can promote a thriving planet instead of choking every living thing to death for short term profit.
The most basic foresight could tell us we’re going in the wrong direction and that we need to change course. We need leaders with insight, vision, humanity and inclusiveness. Where will those people come from? I look to the writers and thinkers. I look to the creative ones, the poets and artists. We need politicians with depth and compassion, which is a contradiction in terms at the moment. Most of the ones we have are hacks, mechanics, without a single original thought. But who put them there?
This time is a challenge to our beliefs, our way of being and relating to the world. That has to change for us to forge a new path. In the absence of an enlightened dictatorship we have to evolve as a species, intellectually, spiritually and in relation to the living Earth.
We have been given an opportunity to take a tentative step onto that path. I hope we will.
Pablo Neruda Again:
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
- Anima Fire is my publication