Embracing grief, and The Headhunters
This precious gift of life is so fragile. fleeting, and humbling. It is a practice to remind ourselves regularly to reflect on and express gratitude for the uncountable events of cosmic history that make it possible just to exist. I feel exceptionally fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn, practice, and share teachings that invoke the depth of grace, gratitude, love, and awareness of life. It is with humility and sincerity that I offer the following observations.
Shit is bananas right now.
There are more than enough challenging things happening globally for us to get mired in existential dread, apathy, or despair. Distractions are plentiful, and also, it is easier than ever to seek and find comfort in communities that reflect back our own thinking to us as we silo ourselves in opposition with other points of view. Algorithms are designed to feed off of and produce reactivity, and drastically reduce the ability for us to slow down, observe, ask questions, and respond. No matter what, social media and the digital world are a distortion because they reduce the complexity and richness of life into two-dimensional consumable objects. We are all living in a world that is not reduceble to binaries, and yet we are inundated with messaging that encourages us to choose between extremes in all areas of life, from class, race, gender, sexuality, and every other aspect of human life.
Zooming out to look at life on this planet, we can see that life, beyond human beings, expresses itself in an abundant variety. Conditions that are harmful for one form of life are nourishing for another. The "waste" materials for one type of being, are an essential nutrient for another (trees recycle carbon dioxide into carbon and oxygen molecules, and thus you and I are breathing). The larger view of life reminds us that conditions naturally change, and that any resistance to change is a misuse of energy. All of the messaging that teaches us to fight, to resist change, and to stay in our own way of thinking keeps us from acknowledging and embracing life as it briefly and beautifully unfolds through us in this human form.
One of the most powerful and necessary ways we can embrace, embody, and celebrate our lives is to grieve. The overt ideas in dominant culture that the value of our lives rests on our productivity, have robbed us of the powerful and important practice of slowing down to experience, express, and metabolize grief. Many of the bitter conflicts that we see are in relationship with this unwillingness to feel and acknowledge the grief of harms done in the past. To resist grief we must deny it in ourselves, and to avoid it we must also deny it for others. To avoid our grief we turn to anger, outrage, or violence, and push away others that would remind us of the pain we are not allowing ourselves to metabolize. As an example, folks who are ardently pushing back against teaching history that is more representative of the horrors of racism are seeking to avoid the grief that will surely follow from ancestors of both victims and victimizers.
To allow ourselves to be open to grief, is to allow ourselves to open to life. Shutting out the painful and uncomfortable parts of life blocks us from being able to fully enjoy being alive. Allowing ourselves to mourn is to celebrate the transitory and beautiful experience of living, and reminds us how our lives are all threads of one unseen fabric woven together by incomprehensible forces that are limitless.
Here are some more thoughts on grief:
Inspired by The Headhunters - Don't Kill Your Feelings