I feel like I keep writing the same thing–balance, balance, balance. Reminding myself to keep centered in the midst of complicated emotions.
I’m letting outrage rattle around inside my Bowl of Feelings these days, trying to get a sense of how it looks, how it feels, what it does in there. There’s a certain surge of energy that feels really righteous and powerful and effective in the moment of outrage. It drives me to write postcards and make telephone calls and to put try to get the word out there. I do believe that it has its place. I had been on the verge of writing that I would be rejecting outrage, when that last sentence happened–I think it really is outrage that fuels those good and effective works. But outrage also has some strange backfires:
* Feeling it and letting it energize me can make me feel as though I have made effective responses when I have actually done nothing.
* When the energy drops off, it drops WAY off, leaving me a depleted husk.
* It leads to incredible self-righteousness.
* When I do manage to sustain the energy of it over time (and the events of these weeks make that easy), it can lead to an overpowering sense of despair. Or, on the other side of that coin: numbness.
When I get a bad headache, I tend to avoid painkillers for as long as I can stand it. It’s like I want to feel the message my body is giving me, to try to understand what it is saying. After both of my C-sections, I found myself refusing the painkillers I was offered. Perhaps it was partly because after the pain of those long labors, nothing felt painful anymore, but again, it seemed like I needed the messages of pain to inform me of my physical limits.
I think that outrage is sort of like those pains. It’s the call to wake up and listen, the urging to pay attention. We can’t let ourselves get capsized by it. Keep at least some painkillers handy–good music, conversation with loving friends, meditation, a good escapist book, prayer, pictures of otters–so that when the pain takes you out of yourself, you have something to bring you back.
I think I am going to have to make this my spiritual practice for the coming years: to hold the coals of outrage in my hand in such a way that I can just bear it, so that it will keep me awake and aware, but to find my way to hold grace and lightness as well.
1. Hundreds of white gulls flying above the bridge.
2. The sun shining through the red tail of a hawk above me.
3. Sun shining through the golden petals of aconite.
4. Grace to help carry and mediate the outrage.
5. Good people. They’re everywhere. Let’s not get ourselves separated into camps–good folks are everywhere. Look for them.
May we walk in Beauty!