I want to share with you Dr. Estes brilliant work, “We Were Made For These Times”, because we are in “these times”! (If Social Media stats are correct and you don’t want to read that much text, then just read whatever line pops out at you. There are NO coincidences!)
Read her post below and then continue on for a few ways that we can learn to surf in the choppy seas of change.
My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times.
I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world right now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking.
Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.
I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.
Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.
In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency too to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails. We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear.
Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely.
It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing.
We know that it does not take “everyone on Earth” to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire.
To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both, are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.
If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do. There will always be times when you feel discouraged.
I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.
The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here.
The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours: They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here.
In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for. This comes with much love and a prayer that you remember who you came from, and why you came to this beautiful, needful Earth.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D
Learn to Surf
I was born in California but I’m not actually a surfer. However I DO love the metaphor! Here are some ways to get up on the surfboard of life without wiping out.
- iGPS– Your dreams are an inner Global Positioning System, or “iGPS” for short and they can not only tell you what you’re feeling and thinking, but they will tell what you don’t yet know about yourself. In stressful times, this can be a life saver. Dreams can also provide answers to life’s dilemmas as well as giving you creative solutions you might not think about with your rational mind. When life is uncertain and stressful, your dreams will be your inner guide that you can consult for direction.
- Balance– Too far this way, too far that way and you wipe out! I don’t know about you but finding balance in my life has been a life-long practice. Balance between work and family, between rest and play, between self care and everyone and everything else! Schedule time for yourself during stressful times because your heath is essential to those in your life. But more importantly, finding your “sea legs” keeps you afloat when the surfboard rocks. You can’t be too stiff or too loose, but finding the right in-between stance will allow you to respond to the waves of life in a way that keeps you balanced.
- Media Fast- While this isn’t a perfect surfing metaphor, I can say with certainty, that surfers aren’t watching their screens while surfing! “These Times” are unfortunately available to us 24/7 whether on TV, on social media or on all your devices. Take a break from the news. Your body and your mind will thank you and you will find yourself feeling calmer and less anxious. Doing a media fast for 24 hours or more will have the added advantage of helping you be present in your life. You will ace the “Be here now” practice, whether watching the waves or focusing on what’s right in front of you.
- Hang Ten- While this originally referred to hanging ten toes over the end of a surfboard, now it also means to just chill. We need to know when to pause in our hectic lives and then actually do it- get off the merry-go-round- rest and renew your energy. This is more important in stressful times than ever. Just do it! You may think you’re indispensable but for the majority of us, the world will manage without us while we take a break.
- The Perfect Wave– Surfers look for the perfect wave and that takes patience. You may never find it! Watching, waiting, timing, using experience and visual clues to know when it’s coming and then get in there…. In surfing through stressful days, you too can use some of these traits to know when to hold ’em; when to fold ’em…. Oops, sorry, wrong metaphor. Patience my friends, and a little detachment, and you too can choose when to step into the wave or when to let that one go and wait for the next one. This detachment can be a life saver when stress has you reaching your limit for the day. Patience, pause and breathe. The nature and constant of the universe is one of change; know that there is never only one wave.
- Riding the Waves- Once you’ve decided to jump in whatever is up for the day, riding the waves requires the ability to allow. You might be able to control how you surf but you can’t usually control the wave itself! There will always be some letting go involved as you allow life to unfold. You might as well relax and not fight what isn’t yours to fight or control. What you can control, however, is how you ride the wave. Like in life, how you choose to respond is even more important than the situation you are responding to. (Hint: respond with love and compassion as often as you can.)
- Find a Friend– Find a buddy who knows how to surf. Whether teacher, mentor, friend or coach most of us will need a lesson or two. The same is even more true in stressful times. There are people who know how to survive the challenging waves of life. Let them guide you. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel and you don’t have to do it alone. Someone has walked the same path during “these times” and can shine the light on the potholes before you fall into one.
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
– John Kabat-Zinn
It’s time to shine your light and find your voice my friends. We can get through these times together!