Reading the New York Times on a Sunday morning makes for an animated family dynamic. “All the news that’s fit to print” leaves my husband fit to be tied.
He spends an hour reading the articles in the front sections, another hour on the opinion pieces in the Week in Review. Finally, a second coffee emptied, he looks up from the newspaper, a frown and a grimace telling me the question on his mind is more a declarative sentence than a request for an answer. Has the world gone mad? he asks.
He shows me a picture of a border control officer on horseback, riding down a Haitian refugee like a plantation slave master. The article about the restrictive voting “rights” bill signed into law by the governor of Texas leaves him apoplectic. “Arlene,” his voice rising, “there are QAnon crazy people in Congress!” He goes through the pages pointing out stories about the political squabbles in Washington (he has a choice name for McConnell). He shakes his head in disbelief while reading the inane quotes from the anti-vaxxers.
The tone is plaintiff: What are we to make of this? How do we live normal, decent lives in the midst of such brutality, indifference, and prejudice?
I think about my answer carefully. Because I know breakfast tables all around the world are confronting similar questions and how I and they respond would determine the future for generations to come.
I choose to remain optimistic. I choose to uncover our light, which like the sun, always rises each morning even if the clouds keep us from seeing it. For humanity, for our planet, there is no other choice.
I believe in the basic good that exists in all of us. We all are products of our families, cultures and environments but we each have the inner wisdom that guides us to choose our own path. Along the way there are excellent instructors to lend their wisdom. I have found solace and encouragement from several contemporary writers and teachers. Tara Brach and Perma Chodron focus on compassion. Michael Singer encourages surrender to the moment. Lee Holden and Jeff Chand offer meditation in motion through Qigong.
Ultimately my husband’s question goes beyond the disturbing news of the day. It is shorthand for the eternal questions, who am I, where did I come from, where am I going?
And I answer accordingly: I am consciousness; I came from consciousness; I am going back to consciousness.
Howard thinks for a moment and a benign smile replaces his frown. He rifles through the sections and finds the Crossword Puzzle. He can usually finish it, with a little help from yours truly.