May You Live In Interesting Times

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It’s been quite the year, hasn’t it? I was giving 2016 some thought this week, and for fun I took a look back to a Chinese New Year prediction from Lotus Institute that I read back in January of 2016. It predicted that this Year of the Fire Monkey would be volatile and exciting and “interesting,” with a reminder to readers that the fortune cookie proverb, “May you Live in Interesting Times” is actually considered a curse.

Much of what was predicted was amazingly accurate. I mean, how apt is the excerpt below?

Expect the unexpected and don’t become complacent. There will be more trickery, deception and opportunism than usual. Watch out for con artists and hucksters, as it is easier to be persuaded, fooled or taken advantage of this year.

Is that what happened? Because it is the perfect segue into the swampy mess that is American politics. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling disillusioned and angry and disbelieving about what is happening socio-politically in this country. There was, of course, the Presidential Election and the subsequent cabinet and other administrative appointments, which are deeply troubling and weigh heavily on my mind. But there was also the DNC and its treatment of Bernie Sanders, the media’s completely slanted coverage of political events in general, the tampering of the election by a foreign government, and the seeming abandonment of fact and truth in American media and politics.

Add to this the human rights abuses at Standing Rock, the travesty that is Aleppo and the increasing number of terror and hate attacks both here in the US and abroad (eg, Brussels, Orlando, Berlin), and it’s no wonder that we feel like running away/ crying/ staying in bed/ taking to the streets (please pick your favorite).

It can be downright disheartening. But I agree with Mark Ruffalo when he warns, “Don’t fall into despair….Because when you feel despair you don’t act.” This rings true. Plus of course, despair doesn’t feel very good, and neither, frankly, do apathy or ignorance.

So what to do? How do we get out from under feelings of despair and despondency? For me, these words from an email I received recently from the organization Science and Nonduality helped to re-frame my outlook. Maybe you’ll find them helpful too:

As we move through the intense sociopolitical moment unfolding on the world stage, and struggle to embrace the unsettled, the unexpected, the unknown, it is good to remember that the certainty we grasp for has always been illusory. Groundless is the nature of reality and this chaotic moment is simply pulling back the curtain of certainty and inviting us to step more fully into the flow of Mystery.

Yes! This is absolutely true, and important to remember. We have control over so much less than we think we do. (Rarely even our own minds!) So why not step bravely and confidently into the unknown?

And why not also bring our attention to all of the good things that are happening in our world?

This list of 99 reasons why 2016 was a good year is an excellent reminder that good things are happening and that we can all do our part to act and to contribute. It may seem a bit overwhelming at times, but if we all continue to do our personal best, to make individual changes that aid the environment, improve the future opportunities of our children and support and serve our neighbor – be they next door or across the world – then these rocky days will not beat us down. They will instead only intensify our resolve and make us stronger.

May we all move into 2017 with hearts full of intention and free of despair. Om Shanti.

Beth Purcell is a human, freelance writer, yogini & member of The House of Yogi family. She finds the oft repeated routine of yoga – from asana to breathwork to meditation – allows her to navigate the organic chaos of everyday life and stay connected to the inspiration & creativity innate in us all.

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