One of the mantra’s that is quite strong for me is to “stay simple.” It’s a reminder. It’s an affirmation. It’s a permission. It’s a simple note to tune to. It’s a clarity with subtext of “start here.” It’s got a lot built in. Like this flower blossomed in my garden this week.
I often find myself writing in very simple ways these days, particularly in my private journal. Yup, as reminder. And affirmation. And permission. Amplified by current context of Corona and what grows around it. Yup, writing simple, daring for it to be enough, an essence, like the flower.
Here’s a sample. I’d suggest it applies in many contexts as an invitation.
Just stay simple. It is unhelpful to clutter life with the clatter of worry.
Stay with Zen. Live in the fullness of two-word sentences and affirmations.
Stay simple in lifestyle. Drink water, exercise, eat simply, and be outside.
From where I live, a short walk away, down Lakeview Road, is a large field in which a few horses graze. Each year, I look for the new foals of Spring. There are usually one or two, that come as early as March and as late as May. I wondered this year if there would be any. I think I was hoping for them. I wanted to feel new life that isn’t stopped by a pandemic. This weekend I walked to that field. There they were. Mare and foal, two sets. One set is pictured above. I love the town that I live in for its “urban meets rural” feel. It offers these moments of “well, there’s something you don’t see every day.”
Also on the weekend, I had a good reconnecting video call with a long time friend, Bob Stilger. Bob and I go back about twenty years now, meeting through the dialogue and change work that we did with Berkana. Bob is thoughtful and kind. He included a bunch of that thoughtfulness and kindness in his book, After Now: When We Cannot See the Future, Where Do We Begin? This book, and Bob’s thinking, has been particularly poignant these last three months given Corona’s challenge to so many aspects of the future.
One of the things I loved in our weekend conversation was sharing an evolution of narrative for human beings, be it from the perspective of groups in uncertainty or from the perspective of human society facing mass not knowing. That evolution of narrative included five helpful reference points.
“Back to normal” — this is the reference that Bob and I both shared as misleading and misguiding. It’s what a lot of people are hoping for. A return to comfort. A return to the way things were. A return to a well-engrained set of certainties.
“New normal” — for those of us that have made it our life’s work to participate in great changes, “new normal” has more appeal in it, mostly because it says something is upon us that is more than the way things were.
“Next normal” — this is where Bob’s thoughtfulness kicked in. Bob is pointing to the reality of things always being in change, sometimes as flux, sometimes as much more massive shift. Next normal is a disposition and attitude that orients to the reality of continuous change.
“Next now” — yes, excellent. Now we are talking about further surrender to, and participation with, what is arising. Next now nudges us further along the path of acknowledging and addictions to certainty, prediction, command, and control.
“Now” — and there we are. There is only the now as so many spiritual traditions through the last couple of millennia have encouraged. In the end of it all, we come to learn and practice more present moment awareness, and know it not as an end, but rather, just as another moment of being.
I’m so glad to follow this little thread with Bob. I’m so glad to hear and find the words of it — because words evolve minds and hearts, minds and hearts evolve lives, and lives evolve worlds. This scaled evolution of awakeness is what I continue to find most compelling personally, and most helpful in the groups I get to work with. It brings a kind of new life, perhaps not that unrelated to the now of the mare and foal down the road.
I find my sense-making these days oscillates significantly. Perhaps more accurately, I find my emotional state in sense-making is shifty. I experience moments of very clear, very transformed, very accepting, very kind. I experience moments of deep sadness, deep despair, deep anger, deep lethargy. Garsh. It’s a lot. I’m learning, thankfully with some very thoughtful friends that they too are experiencing similarly and seeing others in such shiftiness.
Recently I’ve watched a few videos featuring Zach Bush. He’s a doctor. He’s a medical mind. He’s super systemic in thought and offering. He’s quite committed to natural systems. He offers the story of we as human beings. I really like his tone. It feels genuine. And informed. And daring.
Here’s a short one, ten minutes, talking the importance of developing relationship with death, which is ultimately about life. It’s a pretty good mix of honesty of severe context, yet hopefulness. Yah, again, I like the scale of genuine.
Here’s a longer one, eighty minutes, shared with me by a homeopath friend, that is a systems view of Corona Virus. I like the doctor-speak in this. I like the contexting of virus presence (oodles of them every day). I like his reverence and awe for the beauty of virus presence and adaptation. And I need alternatives, sense-making wise, to “winning the war” narratives, or “crushing uncertainty” narratives.
I often find it is Zen-like expressions that move me most. Or Zen moments that are as simple as a deck chair and some deliberate morning stillness.
I wrote these simple lines recently. Yes, from waking. Yes, from living in continued pandemic presence. Yes, with invitation to move with life itself. Yes, with freedom to stay in the simple. Perhaps, just for this day.