Anne Lamott writes, in Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair:
One rarely knows where to begin the search for meaning, though by necessity, we can only start where we are… It somehow has to do with sticking together as we try to make sense of chaos, and that seems a way to begin.
We try to help where we can, and try to survive our own trials and stresses, illnesses and elections. We work really hard at not being driven crazy by noise and speed and extremely annoying people, whose names we are too polite to mention. We try not to be tripped up by major global sadness, difficulties in our families or the death of old pets…
We work hard, we enjoy life as we can, we endure. We try to help ourselves and one another. We try to be more present and less petty. Some days go better than others. We look for solace in nature and art and maybe, if we are lucky, the quiet satisfaction of our homes.
We work hard, we try to enjoy life, we endure. Life so many times is harder than we want it to be. “It’s just the human condition”, they say. Maybe they are right. Maybe we humans are inevitably drawn into chaos, turmoil and bleak moods just because it’s the human condition. We seem to destroy our habitat and each other and ourselves more every day. We let money dictate our choices, we give into selfish interests and we focus on what’s wrong and on what needs fixing. We let systems keep us captive, we give in to convenience, and we let fatigue overshadow our values. We don’t know the answers and we forget to look at the sky. We can’t find meaning in our day to day actions and we are stuck in the past or worrying about the future. The world churns on and we get lost in the global maladies of our time.
Lamott goes on to say,
It’s a terrible system. But the good news is that then there is new life. Wildflowers bloom again… They’re both such surprises. Wildflowers stop you in your hiking tracks. You want to savor the colors and scents, let them breathe you in, let yourself be amazed. And bulbs that grow in the cold rocky dirt remind us that no one is lost.
We live in the chaos of a broken system, and yet. There is good news in our midst. Sometimes wildflowers fill the highway ditches and the scent of pine on a hot day in August filters through the sticky air to remind us that we are here, now. We may be stuck in despair and searching for meaning in things that are swirling around us, never to be pinned down…but we see the beauty in the churning energy that flows and glues together life on this earth. We see beyond the broken tea cups and the crushed blossoms and the hopes that never seem to be fulfilled because we can see the solace that exists in each moment as it unfolds — when we notice the grace of life that underlies everything.
You were born as energy, as life, made of the same stuff as stars, blossoms, breezes. You learned contraction to survive, but that was then.
It can be healthy to hate what life has given you, and to insist on being a big mess for a while. This takes great courage. But then, at some point, the better of two choices is to get back up on your feet and live again.
We remember that we are made of the same stuff as the stars — that we are made of the same stuff as the blossom that turns its face to the morning sun and the breeze that carries our hope for us when we forget to pick it up. We see that there is beauty in simply getting back up and remembering to breathe. Beauty is meaning when we remember we are always connected to some mysterious thing that keeps us awake, even when we have to scrape off the grime to let it shine in the darkness.
Everyday I’m humbled by how challenging it is, during our brief stay on this mysterious planet, to wake up and stay awake. ~Sy Safranksy