The expression on the cat’s face
when he is scratched behind the ears-
it is enough for him.
Can it be enough for me?
It is the face of wholeness,
of a balance that is felt through the whole body.
When I get there, will I know?
Day to day, gliding through the constants-
the routine of my life-
is this what I’ve been looking for?
Has it been here, curled up quiet on my lap?
It is slower, it is more hushed than I imagined it would be.
In this softness I can find meaning- resting on the same pillow every night.
My life now is like the ripples in sand that the flow of wind creates.
It is more gentle, it is more still than I imgined it would be.
The satisfied buzz that the hummingbird makes
when he feels the beat of his own wings.
He flies to the same flowers every day.
It is enough for him-
can it be enough for me?
There is a big difference between interpersonal safety and systemic safety. There is a big difference between an individual person insulting you and threatening your safety, and being oppressed on a larger, systemic scale. Of course, like everything, this is a general rule. There are ways in which they can be inter related. But overall, I believe in significant ways they must be understood as separate issues. So, when it comes to interpersonal interactions, a feeling of discomfort is extremely important to tune into and follow. Our gut instincts evolved for situations of interpersonal safety: if in this type of interaction, regardless of the content, someone gives us that uncomfortable sensation in our stomachs, it is very important to follow this feeling and leave the situation. In these contexts, our gut instincts tell us whether or not we are safe in that moment, and should be trusted at face value. It is exactly what they were designed to do.
But there is also another kind of discomfort- this is a discomfort that is related to bigger systemic issues and our own positions of privilege within them. When discussing social phenomenon, a feeling of discomfort is no longer serving it’s evolutionary purpose. Rather, it is serving a social purpose: protecting our own privilege and the status quo of our social norms. In these situations, discomfort is an important clue that something critical may be happening. Our framework and knowledge for how we understand the world may be about to be expanded on. Our feelings, in this case, are related to a much greater context than our bodies were meant to have to understand, and cannot be taken at face value. When this kind of discomfort hits us, it is telling us that we have hit on an essential vein. It is telling us that we have hit our deepest, most unexamined assumptions. It means that we have found the center of the place where we never knew to consider another possibility of knowing and experiencing.
This type of discomfort is full of opportunity. It is a chance for us to step back and consider. Why did this make me so uncomforable? Why is this idea, or concept, or way of being I had not considered before so disturbing to me? This is where the best and most profound new learning and understanding can take place. In these cases it is counterproductive to run away– rather this is a place to go towards. Where it makes you feel the most strange– this is the place to examine deeper.
It’s not always easy to discern what type of situation you are being presented with- whether it is an interpersonal or systemic issue at hand. We have to ask ourselves: is this a situation where my gut is keeping me safe, or where sticking with my discomfort could help me grow? In reality, it is not always going to be clear cut. There is sometimes going to be overlap. There are going to be instances where this distinction is messy to tease out. There are going to be situations where there may be aspects of both situations present. But as much as possible- try to step back, assess, and evaluate before reacting. Don’t lose these opportunities by swallowing them with defensiveness or turning your back on them in unnecessary anger.
The bliss of this moment rubs against my legs like the lap cats of angels.
Do you also feel this divine?
It is the sweet forest ecstasy:
I raise my arms to the sky and can feel myself fly right up into the stars-
I am astonished by the shape of each cloud.
This is what I find sacred: when the rain drop hits my cheek and I sense the power of a thousand ancestors dripping towards me-
when I feel my descendants drinking deep from the lasting trickle of my legacy.
This is what I find sacred: when I can experience for a moment the great depth that is sensation- when I feel it moving in pulsation, in vibration.
This is what they call flow. This is what keeps me whole. This is the purpose. This is the journey. This is everything.
I wallow in it, like a cat drenched in dust and sun.